Young Steamers take home the prize

BOP Ngawha captain Te Aihe Toma

History was made at Tauranga Domain on Saturday.

No not the 51-24 demolition of Hawke’s Bay by the rampant Bay of Plenty Steamers but the win by the Bay of Plenty Ngawha (Development) side in the curtain raiser.

They defeated Taranaki Hokioi 24-19 to take out the Northern Region Men’s B competition. It is the first time Bay of Plenty have won this important competition which serves as a vital link between club rugby and the Mitre 10 Cup.

Fresh from guiding his Tauranga Sports team to the Baywide Premiership final former Steamers lock Culum Retallick headed the new coaching team of Pingi Taalapitaga and Phil Falamoe.

The Ngawha’s success is tangible evidence of the depth in rugby talent within the wider Bay of Plenty area.

Culum, who played 110 games for the Steamers from 2009-2010, says the season could not have gone any better.

“Against Taranaki our bench players that came on made a huge impact on the game. We were behind and then to put two tries on them and hold on at the end was awesome.

“Overall we are rapt with the guys. They are a good, young bunch of boys who are really keen and eager and have gone well. The majority of the team are under-23 and want to play well and be professional rugby players. This was an opportunity to showcase themselves.”

Culum drew on his years of playing experience with the Steamers and at Super Rugby level to prepare his players for the step up in intensity into a semi-professional environment.

“For myself, Phil and Pingi’s perspective we wanted to give them exactly the same stuff they would be getting if they were in the Steamers but just not the pay cheque. The game plan was similar to what I received when I was a professional rugby player.

“I think a few guys got a bit of a shock at the amount of detail they had to take in. Two things we stuck by all year was putting the effort in and keeping our standards high. The guys really bought into that and knew if you put the effort in you were going to get the reward.”

On a sad note, I want to add to the many tributes for Greerton Marist stalwart Ron Pearson who passed away last week. A great rugby man and provider of rugby photos for me to use in media articles over the years which I was always grateful for.

Ron prided himself on the preparation and presentation of Greerton Marist’s four rugby fields each week. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes videoing and editing countless hours of match footage and this season filmed the Ngawha’s home games. RIP Ron