Sports Hawke's Bay Season 2015 diary

Jethro

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Staff member
We're talking rugby union, aka the game they play in heaven, and in particular the Hawke's Bay Magpies 2015 season as I'm from the region and am a lifelong supporter of the team.

Okay start of season and the Pies find themselves anchored down in the second division but on the bright side are currently Ranfurly Shield champions. So immediate goals 2015 retain the shield, not likely, gain promotion to first division - Otago or Wellington may have other ideas.

Don't worry I'll get around to explaining some stuff as we go along.

Preview Hawke's Bay vs Wairarapa Bush (RS) 9th July

First match for the Bay is a non-championship encounter with the Bush with the shield on the line. Normally I would count this as a training run as the visitors are from the Heartland League, step below the second division, but there's a few things conspiring against this being a walk up massacre. Firstly two Bay players have been called into the All Blacks (national team) for the one off test against Manu Samoa, and secondly four players (Ash Dixon etc) have been called into NZ Maori. Also standing down are a number of Super 15 players who took part in the Hurricanes v Highlanders final last Saturday; congrats to the Clan (Highlanders) on a well deserved win and an inaugural title.

On the bright side Zac Guildford is back and has slotted into the full back spot, not sure if he will retain this position with iDagg likely to be available later in the year, but Zac's normal wing spot is currently occupied. No lack of wingers in the Bay recently. Anyways Zac will provide the much needed leadership in a team that will call on Academy players to fill out the ranks.

Wairarapa Bush are expected to be at full strength.

Expected result, a hard fought win to the Bay (hometown advantage), but a lot closer than some people think, unless of cause we unearth a few stars in the up and coming ranks.

Background

The Ranfurly Shield is the oldest trophy in NZ Provincial rugby and is viewed as being of higher importance than even an ITM Cup championship by the fans and players. Hawke's Bay has had two successful runs in Shield history, 1922-1927 24 victories, 1966-1969 21 victories. The current run stands at 4 after snatching the Shield from Counties in 2014 and holding off three challenges that year.

For a full rundown check Ranfurly Shield - Wikipedia
 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Hawke's Bay 58 - 7 Wairarapa Bush (RS)

The Bay turned the first defense of the season into a training run as the overpowered the Bush boys in the second half scoring 41 unanswered points. Good news with Zac slotting in well at full back, scored two tries, and Ihaia West back on board after a stint with Super 15 outfit the Blues.

Bush turned in a sterling first half effort but couldn't build anything as the weight of the tackles they were forced to make took their toll. The Bay backs were dedicated, finding holes in the Bush defense, and the forwards were once again a strength, as they were in 2014.

A couple of exciting new prospects unearthed with Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald looking to cement a place in the regular side.

Next up the Horowhenua Kapiti side will journey north to Maclean Park for the second challenge of the year.

And back in 2014 for the shield challenge

 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Hawkes Bay 50 - 16 Horowhenua-Kapiti

The second defense of the shield in 2015 saw the Horo boys give it a damned good go as coached Philpot's concerns about his Magpie charges increases. The Heartland union lads were up for a challenged and managed to run a lack luster Bay team ragged for three quarters of this encounter, before they ran out of gas and conceded 30 odd points in the final ten minutes. At 20-16 with ten to go it looked like a boil over might occur, but some negative play cost the challengers in the end.

The Bay are now sweating on the return of pretty much their entire first team, though a couple of the kids from the academy are making names for themselves. One more challenge from the Heartland, Hammer time with Mid Canterbury coming home, and then it's the business with ITM challengers coming thick and fast. The Bay has a lot of work to do and needs the likes of West, Kaka, and Dixon back onboard.

 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Hawkes Bay 39 - 10 Northland (ITM Cup, Ranfurly Shield)

With the pre-season hinterland challenges successfully overcome the Bay fronted up to their first ITM cup opponents of the year, the Northland Taniwhas. Initial concern was the Bay's slow start to matches, but on the bright side Dixon and the boys were back from International duty. Right from the get go in this one the Bay dominated up front and absolutely demolished the Taniwha front eight. Easy afternoon from there, though Coach Philpot emptied his bench going into the final quarter which threw Bay cohesion out the window and lead to the Taniwhas solitary try at the end.

Only worrying aspect was West missing a few, the bench not responding as expected, and some one off running. Still good win, the shield retained and five ITM Cup points in the bank.

The Bay are on the road for the next fortnight taking on Otago in the deep south and then the Steelers up North. Not a good road trip as the Otagoites are strong at home and the Steelers is a cross over game with the hosts being a force in the first division (Premiership).

 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Otago 22 - Hawkes Bay 39 (ITM Cup)

The Bay traveled south to take on Otago at their new stadium. Unfort the fans didn't turn out in droves, which underlines the long season the locals look to be having. In a tight first half the Bay took a narrow 3 point lead as a few blows were traded. Notable for the visitors Izzie Dagg was released from national duties for a fortnight and impacted in the second half with a trio of tries. The Bay looked to be cruising in this one as they rattled on the points against the young Otago outfit but two late tries to the home side made it somewhat respectable, though questions should be raised by Otago's final try, for mine the ball had not come out of the scrum ergo penalty to the Bay. Still we'll take the five and head North to take on first division side Counties next weekend.

 

Jethro

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Staff member
Tables after round 2

Early days but in the Premiership it looks like the Evil Empire (Canterbury) are going to be unstoppable with probably Tasman or Auckland going up against them in the finals. The Naki and Manawatu are hovering in the danger zone at the moment but it could all change in one round.

In the second division Championship the Bay and the Wellington Lions look very strong though the Southland Stags could push. Once again a single round could change things up.

For mine Canterbury look nigh on unbeatable, though Counties came close, and Wellington are final showing some signs of emerging from their slumber to be a force once again.
 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Counties 11 - 35 Hawke's Bay (ITM Cup)

The Bay headed north for the first of their cross over matches in 2015 and absolutely dominated a Steelers outfit who looked to be off the boil throughout the match. Besides Izzie missing a conversion badly in the final moments and a lot of dropped pill the Bay look to be starting to hit their straps as we approach the mid point of the ITM competition. Which is just as well as Auckland and Canterbury are on the agenda later in the season.

On the bright side, besides getting the full five points, Robbie Fruen was bracketed for this match. Okay he didn't play but can only be a few days off taking the field. With Kaka away on National duties along with Franks the Bay are going to need their full line up, especially since Zac may be facing a few weeks on the sideline if the judiciary look at a spear tackle he committed.

Not a lot to say about the Steelers, they were pretty much outplayed across the park and for mine don't look like a first division outfit. This could be a wake up call for them.

The Bay are next at home against North Harbour who are coming off an exciting win against the Stags. The match sees ITM Cup points up for grabs and of course doubles as a Shield match. For once I'm confident the Bay will run away with it, Harbour lack the star power the Pies have right across the backline.

 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Hawke's Bay 48 - 32 North Harbour (ITM Cup, Ranfurly Shield)

As expected the Bay had little difficulty in putting Harbour to the sword, however worrying signs for coach Philpot with the home team allowing 32 points to be racked up against them. This is troubling given some top quality sides (Cantebury, Auckland in particular) are still to be faced in 2015. Still full points are not to be sniffed at with a summit clash against the Wellington Lions looking to be the final make up in this division.

Team news Zac out for four weeks, suspension for a spear tackle, Robbie Fruean close to returning, and in big news Brodie Retallick has signed a four year deal starting in 2016. So that's another AB player available to the Bay!

Next up is a trip to Mordor to play Canterbury in a cross over match. I give us exactly zero hope in this one, the Cantabs are second in division 1 and the Bay haven't won a match against the Evil Empire since ... well forever really. :(

 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Canterbury 29 - 14 Hawke's Bay (ITM Cup)

The Bay traveled South and simply played their worst game of the 2015 season, including dropped ball, lack of D, and stupid decision making. On the bright side Robbie is back, he scored the Bay's second try, but Buckman and Zac are out. The Cantabs ran up 22 points in the first half against some woeful defense from the Magpies which must have coach Philpott looking to see who else is available. Just when it seemed the Bay might get buried under an avalanche of points they got a few lucky calls and toughened up. A 14 - 7 second half score line at least added some respectability to the game, though Magpie fans will try and forget this one.

News to hand is Zac has been picked up by the Waratahs of all teams for the 2016 Super Rugby shambles.

Next up is an ITM Cup/Shield clash that will resonant across the Land as 2015's Battle of the Bays rocks out. Bay of Plenty are visiting Napier for naming rights, the points, and of course the Ranfurly shield. Even with 4 front line players not available the Bay are expected to nail this one for maximum points ahead of a tough run in to the finals. Apparently the PC brigade no longer allow us to call BOP "Hori BOP", "The Steamers" is apparently a much better name *snigger*.

Sorry no video available of the match due to youtube having weird rules.
 
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