Tasman Rugby League had their first wet game of the season, which as everyone knows – rain can be a leveller. And that is exactly what happened when Motueka Tigers hosted the mighty men from over the hill, Wairau Taniwha.
This was the Tigers first home game and they were welcomed onto Riwaka Rugby Club Grounds for the occasion. A small, but very noisy crowd were treated to a great game of league between two teams who were pretty well matched in skill. Both teams had their core group of seasoned players, but also a good mixture of young guns who brought some great energy to the game.
Taniwha scored first with Tana Pounia dotting down (his first of four), followed by Tyler Aldridge and Michael Bates before the Tigers crossed the line three times before half time to give a half time score of 18-16 with Taniwha having a very narrow lead. Denym Antonievic and Elia Miatiakibau put the points on the board for the Tigers with Mitchell Duncan-Jonas doing kicking honours in the first half.
The second half started with Iatausili Meki scoring for the Taniwha. This was answered with a try from the Tigers, before Tana Pouniu bagged his second for the Taniwha. Mitchell Duncan-Jonas from the Tigers was rewarded for his hard work with a try of his own followed by one of the Motueka Tigers key players, Sam Hedges crossing the line. This made the score 30-28 to the Tigers with not a lot of time left on the clock. There were car horns tooting, and cheering from the very loyal and vocal Tigers supporters. Could they hold on? The heightened level of intensity from both teams was fantastic and their focus and concentration amazing. You can’t beat a great game of league, and this was going to be a tight race to the finish line.
The Taniwha came out strong and their player of the day, Tana Pounia crossed for his third and fourth of the day giving a final score of 38-30 to the Taniwha and dashed the hopes of the Tigers. However the Tigers should be commended for their effort and determination and providing a great game of league. They are really starting to gel as a team so will definitely be worth watching going forward.
For the Tigers, Captain Sam Hedges and speedster Denym Antoneivic along with player of the day Elia Miatiakibau had strong games with Tigers props, Jason Rangihuna and Harley Thompson providing some solid platforms for Hayden Smith and Matiu Taiapo to work off. Damaging runs by Taniwha Captain Jason Garlick and prop Fetu Ieremia and the ever dangerous Tana Pouniu had stand out games for the Taniwha. And the ever dependable boot of Simon Duncan, now playing for the Taniwha, helped keep the scoreline just out of reach of the Tigers.
The Motueka Tigers are improving with every game and have the potential to cause an upset or two in the upcoming games.
Special thanks to Riwaka Rugby Club for allowing Tasman Rugby League to use Cooks Reserve for this game. What a great venue and great for Motueka to have their home games there. Thanks also to Vince and the team at Hotel Motueka for the after match function. The warm food was greatly received on such a dreary day.
Next week sees Victory Phoenix travel to Blenheim to take on Wairau Taniwha.
Kick off 2,30pm at Oliver Park, Blenheim.