BOTH the best and the worst of Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau and Harvey Round Motors Ratana ended up cancelling each other out in their 14-14 stalemate at the Country Club on Saturday.
While Ratana were satisfied to pick up their first Tasman Tanning premier competition points in 2015, Kaierau wanted better for their home game squeezed in between two bye weeks.
Having little momentum in the first half as the Ratana forwards spun their scrums and isolated their ruck ball, to a symphony of whistling by referee Kawana Tihema, Kaierau got some better structure after half-time as they finally gave their bolters in the backline room to work.
However, playing with or against 14 men for most of the half, both teams were too uneven to create the final breakthrough, with Ratana being predictable on attack by just rumbling it up and Kaierau having flair but not the field position to utilise it.
Ratana hooker Keanu Puki-Kaa and lock, captain Isaac Fonotoe, along with Kaierau No8 Fiatau Faalili were binned for professional fouls, while Kaierau second five Kameli Kuruyabaki went after a second high tackle.
Ironically all four were also among their team’s most standout performers, but the added effort brought lapses in discipline and Tihema’s attention.
Ratana only had themselvesto blame in the first half with inside passes dropped and aimless attacking kicks, while Kaierau simply couldn’t penetrate the 22m zone without giving the ball back.
Throw in missed goal kicks right in front from both teams and it really was that kind of day – tense and competitive, but certainly not sparkling.
“It’s disappointing, no continuity,” said Kaierau coach Keith Savell.
Ratana coach Cornel Mason laid down to his team at full-time that cardio training will be the order of day – improved fitness required to keep grinding the opposition down in the final quarter.
The team had introduced a new halves combination in Marama Penetito and Paora Heremia, with Mason satisfied they had come through well.
“I was really happy with the effort today. A bit more belief in ourselves.”
The visitors had the perfect start after Kaierau spilled the kick-off then gave away a free kick, with flanker Jamie Hughes taking the tap and twisting through three tacklers to score by the posts.
Play stayed mainly between the 22m lines with both teams sweeping back and forth but either losing the ball or getting pinged to relieve the pressure.
Kaierau finally replied in the 27th minute when Edwards and first-five Ace Malo got close enough to have a crack, before Kuruyabaki darted inside and dotted down at the goalposts.
Both teams scored immediately after a sin-binning in the second half.
Stopping a raid just on their line, Ratana lost Fonotoe and Kaierau reserve forward Nemia Adrole tapped the ball and placed it over the Ratana tacklers, with Malo converting from the sideline.
Just when it appeared Kaierau would pull away, a sideline shoving match between Adrole and winger Ihaia Tai was followed by Kuruyabaki being sin-binned, with the surprised crowd not aware it was for an earlier high collar.
Ratana mauled 20m from the penalty line-out and Puki-Kaa strolled over the line as the Kaierau pack disintegrated.
The home team had the better of the running in a frenetic final ten minutes, however a long range Malo penalty and a Lama drop goal attempt both drifted wide.
Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau 14 (Kameli Kuruyabaki, Nemia Adrole tries, Ace Malo 2 con)
drew with Harvey Round Motors Ratana 14 (Jamie Hughes, Keanu Puki-Kaa tries, Western Hemi con, Te Tua Kemp con)
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle