Plans to axe the Hawke's Bay Tuis rugby side from their NPC may be premature.
Te Matau a Maui's women's team proved this with a 26-12 win against their Manawatu counterparts on day one of the Te Tini a Maui (Central Region) tournament in Palmerston North yesterday.
"I can understand the Hawke's Bay union's reason for withdrawing the Tuis ... last year's results weren't good enough. However, this result proves the enthusiasm has returned to women's rugby in the Bay and if the Tuis are going to be withdrawn it should only be a short-term measure," Te Matau a Maui women's coach and Tuis coaching job applicant Tom Blake said.
Captain and No8 Chanel Huddleston, prop Jamie Heather and lock Amy Pedman were inspirational in the Te Matau a Maui pack. Halfback Shaylee Tipiwai, who scored two tries, and first five-eighth Te Maari MacGregor controlled the backline well. Promising outside back Maia Wati-Cooper displayed her pace with an intercept try and Kathryn Marshall provided impact as a midfield substitute.
MacGregor scored the other try and fullback Amy Williams kicked three conversions for her side which led 14-5 at halftime against a Manawatu outfit dominated with players from last year's successful NPC side including former Tui and Black Fern Marina Canterbury.
Should the Tuis beat their Wellington counterparts today they will win the tournament. Blake is also the Te Tini a Maui women's coach and after the tournament will name his side to play Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) next weekend.
Te Matau a Maui men made their first appearance at the tournament in three years and received a tough welcome back when beaten 60-20 by their Manawatu counterparts, who led 28-0 at halftime.
"We had a young side which lacked the necessary experience. The Manawatu side was basically the Freyberg club team which used this event as a pre-season hit-out and their superior cohesion showed," Te Matau a Maui manager Jon Matthews said.
Magpies prop Brendon Edmonds and 2012 East Coast Heartland championship lock Everard Reid, playing at No8, were a powerful pair in the pack and halfback Crete Cribb the best of the backs.
Cribb, Reid and second five-eighth Ihaka Waerea scored the visitors tries and Waerea kicked a penalty and conversion.
Te Matau a Maui will play East Coast in today's play-off for third.