Retaining the Ian MacRae Cup with the 46-31 win, the game served as an important warmup for Heartland’s two matches in Rarotonga against the Cook Islands, tomorrow and Friday.
Coach Kurt McQuilkin said he was happy with the team systems in place and how his side used the width of the field, but a few individual errors like missed tackles were a concern.
Conditions were very hot at the North Harbour Marist ground, a good conditioner for playing in Rarotonga, while NZ Marist fronted with some very noteworthy additions from the professional realm.
Big Chiefs player and former All Blacks wider-training squad member Ben Tameifuna, Northland’s Troy Gilbert, Auckland and New Zealand U20’s representative Leroy van Dam, and Canterbury’s JJ Manning all played.
“It was an attack-orientated game from both sides,” said McQuilkin.
Wanganui hooker Cole Baldwin scored from a charge down at the lineout, while reserve forward Lasa Ulukuta also came off the bench to score late in the game.
However, once again it was captain Peter Rowe who led from the front, as McQuilkin praised the flanker for topping the tackle count and putting the hit of the game on Tameifuna, all 140kg of him.
“He sat him right on his behind, it was a massive hit.”
McQuilkin said he will start the bench players and those who were rested on the weekend for the first game against Cook Islands tomorrow, before selecting the strongest side for the second match on Friday.
By Jared Smith