A BRAVE Wanganui Under-20 representative rugby team gave away age and size when they suffered a narrow 25-17 loss to the touring New Zealand Marist Colts side at Cooks Gardens on Tuesday night.
The match was part of Wanganui’s preparation for the Hurricanes B competition kicking off in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Tuesday’s match was the second in Marist’s four-game tour and came hard on the heels of the national side’s 55-5 drubbing of Tukapa Colts in New Plymouth on Saturday.
Marist Colts will play in Masterton tomorrow and end its tour in Palmerston North on Saturday. The New Zealand Marist team includes Wanganui’s Tim Gudsell, who played the whole 80 minutes at open side flanker on Tuesday night, impressing coach Jason Hamlin.
Hamlin, of course, is the Wanganui Heartland squad back coach this season.
Wanganui Under-20 coach Denis Edwards was unavailable for comment yesterday but assistant Darren Munro said he and Edwards were both impressed by the young side’s progress after several training runs and two games to date.
“Our guys are under-20 obviously, while the Marist boys were 23, 24 and 25 and some were big men,” Munro said. “Our guys played very well though and there wasn’t too much in it. We had a couple of standouts and in particular No8 James Brett who scored our second try.
“Tighthead prop Jack Yarrell scored the first, while first-five Taylor Transom kicked both conversions and a penalty.”
Munro said captain Gabriel Hakaraia played well at loosehead prop even though he normally plays hooker for his Ruapehu club side.
“We are pretty happy with the way the boys are progressing. We only just got beaten 26-21 by a New Zealand Army team at the weekend and some of those guys are in their late 20s.
“We were 26-7 down at half time, but came back really strongly in the last 10 minutes to finish 26-21,” Munro said.
Wanganui begin the Hurricanes B Competition against a Poverty Bay-East Coast combined team on Saturday. All games in that competition are to be played in Palmerston North.
Meanwhile, Hamlin was pleased with his side’s two winning performances after just two training runs since convening just last Friday.
“One of our training runs was in the carpark before the game, so not ideal. We had a couple of players who made a big impact including Sione Hifo (Ardmore).”
Marist’s points came from half-back Trevor Steffany and Mike Buckley (tries), a penalty try and two conversions and two penalties from second-five James Hawkey.
By Iain Hyndman – Wanganui Chronicle