07 Aug 2013
Match 3 v Westlands HS, Hokitika

This morning we were officially welcomed to Hokitia by our hosts at Westlands High School, with a traditional Maori Powhiri. This ceremony includes greetings from the chief (school principal), songs of agreement from the pupils and players, a thank you from the guests (Mr Cotterill) and a song from us, which the boys chose as Jerusalem, and they sang strongly if not always sounding as pitch perfect as they may have been aiming for. The ceremony was then brought to a close with a series of Hongi, which is the traditional Maori greeting of touching noses, with all of the tour squad welcomed by the schools leaders and players.

The afternoon then saw us play our hosts on a traditional west coast rainy day that would test our skills for the whole game. Following another powerful Haka from Westlands, the game started with Eltham using no U6th players, with an eye on next season and providing a great experience for the potential 1st XV players of 2013-14.

The match could not have started better for us, as we were two scores up within ten minutes, as Scott Baker grabbed two tries following well executed plays and converted both himself (he would go on to kick another seven conversions for a 100% record in the game). First half scores were then added by Will Foster (captain for today and next season), William Gibbs and two for Piers Shimwell as we took a 42-0 lead into half time.

However the second half was much more even, as Westlands fought back well to not only limit us to three further tries but also managed to grab one themselves following a strong scrum move. But during the half Ed Goodger crossed before going off injured, then Edward Gibbs matched his twin brothers’ effort from earlier, and after Westlands had scored their try, Shimwell completed his hat trick to finish the game on a high and get to half way on the tour as top try scorer with five.

Once again a huge thank you must go to our hosts, for everything that they have done for us and the respect that they have shown us by welcoming us into their homes in the traditional Maori way. Hokitika will be a place that we all look back on with great fondness; even if we will might need a wringing out once we reach the north island and Wellington tomorrow night.