Aotearoa Warriors grabbed a win in the NRL over Gold Coast Titans, then the reserve graders followed suit to defeat Wentworthville Magpies 26-16 yesterday while Jersey Flegg Warriors went down 24-32 to Parramatta Eels. There were a few intriguing selections and individual performances, plus there's apparent news of Solomone Kata perhaps wiggling his way out of Mt Smart.
I'll start with Kata, who was dynamic in the Canterbury Cup win over Wentworthville after mainstream media linked him to Melbourne Storm. As always when mainstream media get their mits on this stuff, initially take it with a grain of salt because the mainstream media get their information from a player agent or the team and these scenarios tend to be about either party (player or team) getting leverage by hitting the media.
Kata scored 2 tries and had a whopping 176m from just 15 runs, as well as 3 line breaks, 2 try assists and 7 tackle busts vs Wentworthville. Kata wasn't exactly tested though in defence as he only had to make 4 tackles and missed 2 tackles with an error, which kinda sums up where Kata is at right now.
What is ominous for Kata, is Hayze Perham now getting consistent game time at centre on the other edge. Perham's the high-ceiling prospect who has been moved to centre in reserve grade as a piece in a complex puzzle; Adam Pompey's now the reserves fullback and the NRL back three is super settled, so Perham's best pathway seems to be centre. While Perham has a wee way to go, we may not be too far away from Kata being overtaken by Patrick Herbert and Perham in the rankings.
One stat that stood out from that Canterbury Cup game was the disparity in touches between Adam Keighran and Chanel Harris-Tavita. Harris-Tavita had 57 touches while Keighran had just 12 touches, which is a weird mix and especially at this level where neither half is that much better than the other.
This isn't new either, last week in the hefty loss to Dragons, Keighran had just 16 touches and Harris-Tavita had 65. I'll keep an eye on this trend in the coming games, I'm not sure what it means and don't want to get dramatic about it, but it ain't normal.
Other impressive stat-lines...
Ligi Sao (middle): 74mins, 18 runs/171m, 72pcm, 1 tackle bust, 2 offloads.
Taane Milne (edge): 43mins, 1 try, 12 runs/144m, 42pcm, 1 try assist, 2 tackle busts, 1 offload.
Phillip Makatoa: (edge/middle): 37mins, 12 runs/139m, 45pcm, 1 line break, 1 tackle bust.
Jersey Flegg Warriors went down to Parramatta, with the major note here coming as William Fakatoumafi was a late inclusion to play alongside Sione Moala in the halves. Paul Turner had initially been named and Fakatoumafi had only played fullback in his previous outings for the Flegg Warriors.
Moala and Fakatoumafi were both named in the Aotearoa Residents Under 18 wider squad earlier this year, putting them at the younger end of the Flegg age-group. That's another low key sign of Warriors development and the prospects coming through and this game also featured Eliesa Katoa starting at prop, with Neyla Masima coming off the bench; two 1st 15 rugby recruits straight out of high school.
With Sean Mullany (didn't play this week) and Tyler Slade both moving up to reserve grade, Penehuro (Richard) To'ai has been given the starting hooker role. Taniela Otukolo came on to the bench this week, although I'm not sure if he played a hooker role in this game and Temple Kalepo has been missing for a few weeks so he is most likely injured.
Jersey Flegg Warriors Brody Tamarua and Kayal Iro have both been named in the Cook Island Kukis squad, as they prepare for face South Africa in a World Cup qualifier.
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Peace and love 27.