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Moana Pasifika will play the Blues on Saturday – the second time this week.
Due to several match postponements earlier in the season, Super Rugby teams such as Moana and the Blues have had to squeeze in six matches over the span of three weeks to make up for time lost.
Tuesday night saw the two Auckland sides go head to head in the first of two meetings this week. For Moana Pasifika it was the perfect opportunity to play in front of their supporters as Covid restrictions for outdoor events are no longer in place.
Both teams had to dig deep into their squad for the mid-week encounter as a total of 14 debutants were named across both teams. After 80 minutes, the Blues came out victorious with a 32-19 over Moana Pasifika.
Leading into the second all-Auckland duel this Saturday, Moana Pasifika are keen to put Tuesday’s loss behind them and amend their mistakes. Scrum coach Pauliasi Manu spoke on the importance of “flushing away” Tuesday’s result and focusing on Saturday.
“Everyone is doing okay. The boys have a good mentality which is driven by our coaching staff,” Manu says.
“Every week we are growing in different parts of our game and there has been lots of improvement from our players and growth in character. They’re willing to turn up for the next game”
An area that Manu and his forward pack will be strongly working on is their scrum. Moana gave away a lot of penalties in the first half on Tuesday particularly around their scrum. It’s been one of the ‘work-ons’ in this quick, three-day turnaround.
“For our boys, it is just about getting experience in that pocket. It’s all learning and we can’t dwell on it; just move forward to the next game,” Manu says.
The experienced Sekope Kepu returns to the captaincy role after a well deserved break on Tuesday. Tasman speedster Timoci Tavatavanawai will also make his debut for Moana on Saturday night on the wing, which Kepu describes as a special moment for a deserving player.
“He brings energy and everyone couldn’t stop applauding him today in our team meeting as he gets a start. He’s trained hard and has that big Fijian smile on him.
“We are extremely proud he gets this opportunity and I am sure he will take it with two hands.”
Moana Pasifika will play the Blues this Saturday night at Eden Park with kick-off scheduled at 7:05pm.