Rugby: Tukapa on the rise in premier rugby

Thursday, Jun 06 2024

Rugby: Tukapa on the rise in premier rugby

Will Johnston 

Photo: Scott Siffleet Photography.

Tukapa coach Nathan Lawrence said the team isn’t getting ahead of themselves when they host cross-city rivals and defending champions New Plymouth Old Boys at Sanders Park. 

After missing out on the playoffs last season, the side jumped into second place on the ladder after last week’s win against Coastal, coupled with Old Boys losing to Stratford-Eltham.  

The Coastal win was Tukapa’s fifth consecutive after a slow start to the reduced season.  

Lawrence, who recruited former Hurricanes and Rebels flanker Scott Fuglistaller as his assistant, said trusting their systems and the players working hard for each other has been behind the recent run of form.  

“There has been good buy-in,” he said. “We’re trying to improve every week, even last week we really only played our best footy for about half the game. We aren’t getting too far ahead of ourselves, and the boys are working hard to better themselves each week.” 

Several players have stood out for Lawrence including under 20 players Patrick Howlett and Jack Gilmour. He said the team is asking a lot of them and are delivering well.  

Midfielder Henry Miles, lock Corbin Porteous and loose forward Nathaniel Peters have slotted in well.  

“They have taken to premier rugby like riding a bike after a year off and Nathaniel is playing some of his best footy at the moment.”  

Peters, a two-time Taranaki rep in 2022, is not only a physical player for Tukapa but also shows strong ball running ability. He’s been snapped up in Neil Barnes’ wider training squad.  

Ahead of the always highly anticipated match, Lawrence said the defending champions will “always have a good crack in the forwards” along with having the best game driver in Brayton Northcott-Hill.  

“That’s going to put them in the right places. They have the wood over us in the past year and a bit, so we are well aware we’re going to be in for a hell of a game.”  

Old Boys co-coach Hamish Mitchell said injuries have taken their toll on the team in recent weeks but acknowledges that’s part of the game.  

“We started well but unfortunately we haven’t put a full 80-minute performance in.”  

Mitchell said the challenge will be to keep the intensity high throughout the game but knows Tukapa are the form team that can finish well.  

Referee Chloe Sampson will make her premier debut at Yarrow Stadium where she will control the Spotswood United-Coastal match.  

Sampson became the first Taranaki female to assistant referee a domestic match last season and the second female to control a Taranaki premier match after Auckland’s Maggie Cogger-Orr refereed a game last year.  

Spotswood United will have plenty of confidence after breaking a two-year losing streak last week. 

Competition leaders Stratford-Eltham host Southern at Victoria Park and Clifton plays Inglewood at Tikorangi in the remaining matches.  

All games kick off at 2:45pm.  

In the women’s competition, Inglewood hosts Southern at TET Stadium and Tukapa plays leaders Clifton at Sanders Park. After a default last weekend, Coastal-Okaiawa has the bye. Both games start at 12:30pm.