Sports correspondant & historian
After singing the praises of the Western Bay of Plenty rugby competitions last week - Sideline Sid was delighted to hear of two outstanding individual performances last Saturday.
On Matakana Island, home team flyer Mate Samuels took control of the encounter against Eastern Districts on the Island, when he ran in seven tries as the home team posted a 97-7 victory.
Meanwhile at Blake Park, Katikati backline speedster Richie Earl was in outstanding form scoring all his sides points, as the visitors squeezed past Mount Maunganui 32-28.
Richie’s points came from four tries, three conversions and two penalty goals as his team retained their unbeaten start to the season.
The two outstanding scoring feats showcased the standard of the local rugby competition. While previously seen as a second tier competition, the current format provides a direct pathway to Baywide rugby for a number of teams.
The real upside of Western Bay format is that a number of talented players have made the decision to remain with their mates in the local competition, rather than jump ship to play Baywide rugby. Both Mate and Richie are good examples of personal commitment to their teams.
At the end of the Western Bay championship, which has the time honoured Combined Cup as the prize – two local teams will head off in pursuit of Baywide promotion. Baywide promotion in 2013 is available to Katikati, Matakana Island, Judea, Papamoa, Arataki and Eastern Districts.
There is likely to be a real dogfight within in the local competition to grab the two Baywide qualifying sports. Of the six contenders Katikati and Arataki Black sit astride the standings with 24 points, with Matakana Island and Papamoa lurking just four points adrift.
Western Bay rugby, also brings the charms of a number of grounds that the local rugby fans don’t get to experience any more. The introduction of Baywide rugby killed the visits of the heavyweights to many of the smaller grounds in the region.
It is a long time since Western Bay club first fifteen supporters visited Moore Park in Katikati. It is a real hidden gem, and has again been rewarded with another Steamers pre-season hit-out this year.
Last year around 2000 Steamers fans, turned out on a miserable wet afternoon to watch a pre-competition game against Taranaki. On Friday, August 17 2012 a Steamers XV will return to Moore Park to play North Harbour.
One of the most scenic grounds in the Western Bay is found on Matakana Island. A huge veranda that circles the clubrooms provide weather free viewing, while the views of Mauao from the island are breathtaking.
Hidden away not far from the city is Judea headquarters at Maharaia Winiata Park. Judea’s park is another with grand views and a sports club that caters for a variety of sports and other activities.
Papamoa make use of the Gordon Spratt Reserve with Arataki calling Grenada Park home. A myriad of playing fields along with superb facilities is found at Eastern Districts home base at the Paengaroa Domain. The central Bay Plenty location, sees the ED grounds used for a considerable number of Bay age group rep fixtures, because of the central location.
Seeya at the Game