WANGANUI premier and senior rugby will continue this weekend after Saturday was initially set aside as a layday because Steelform Wanganui are playing Wairarapa-Bush in a non-first class representative game in Palmerston North tonight.
Wanganui Rugby Union club development officer Paul Kenny confirmed the Tasman Tanning-sponsored premier club fixtures washed out last weekend would be played this Saturday, while the senior games would carry on as normal.
The exception in the premier division is the PGG Wrightson/Ballance Taihape v McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu match. A date, time and venue have yet to be confirmed, but it could possibly be played under lights at Waiouru on Thursday, July 2. This clash is for the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield. Taihape beat Ruapehu 25-23 in round one.
“Last weekend’s washed out senior games will only be replayed if they need to be later in the competition,” Kenny said yesterday.
“The premier games have been transferred from last Saturday to this coming Saturday. It wasn’t a popular move in some sectors, but the decision was never up to the clubs, it was up to the operations committee after talking to the Council of Clubs.”
Concern had been expressed on social media that clubs weren’t consulted as some players had plans for their spare weekend including the Hurricanes hosting the Brumbies in the Super Rugby semi-final at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
It was important the washed out games be played with the eight Wanganui premier sides facing just four more weeks of second round qualifying matches before the semi-finals on July 24.
The important games facing the play-off contenders before the semis, with first round results in brackets, are: Integrity Motors Pirates v Waverley Harvesting Border at Waverley on Saturday (25-5 to Pirates) and the Taihape v Ruapehu (25-23 to Taihape).
The July 4 clash between Utiku OB and Border at Taihape (22-18 to Border), the Ruapehu v Utiku match on July 11 at Ohakune (34-31 to Utiku), the Border v Taihape game at Waverley on July 18 (15-12 to Border) and the Utiku v Pirates game at Taihape (50-29 t Pirates) on July 18 could also be key.
The outcome of these six games will whittle the contenders down from five to four and sort out the semi-final match venues.
Harvey Round Motors Ratana, Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau and Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist could possibly spring a surprise, but on current form look destined for the semis in the Ben Pedley Cup consolation alongside the fifth-placed championship side.
Meanwhile, Ngamatapouri still plans to meet Hunterville in Hunterville in the senior grade clash despite parts of the Waitotara Valley being inaccessible.
If necessary, Ngamatapouri players will be flown out by helicopter to compete.
By Iain Hyndman – Wanganui Chronicle