Monday 20: A large crowed of over 500 gather to watch a local side take on St Kent’s 1st XV rugby team in Aitutaki.
As Aitutaki has not played age grade rugby for two seasons, preparation was limited to just two training sessions.
The side was made up of local Cook Islands Sports Academy boys mixed with Araura College students, and a couple of under 18 (ex SENZ boys) as key play makers. Alex Roa captained the team at fullback, Teu Paerau was at 1st five-eighth, and Hugh Henry now studying at St Kent’s playing at centre against his new school.
Aitutaki coach Rere Mataiti expected the boys to be challenged in the set plays and to do better with the ball in hand and this turned out to be the case.
Whenever Aitutaki managed to hold onto the ball the backline were able to create opportunities.
The only points for Aitutaki came from such an opportunity when Hugh Henry stepped two players and broke for the line to score under the posts.
In the first half the Aitutaki forwards managed to hold their own and surprised all by scrummaging very well they just weren’t able to sustain this for the full game.
For St Kent’s this being their second game as a team the combinations were starting to work better and this translated to some good plays resulting in a 33-5 victory.
The Cook Island boys in the Saint Kent’s team all have Aitutaki connections and those boys all played well. Ben Tautu and Denis Heather in the forwards did well and Mark Tuaati and Sema Robati were both threats with the ball in hand.
The last two days has been a chance for the two Aitutaki St Kent’s boys Hugh Henry and Taraia Maoate (son of Junior and Paula Maoate) to show their school mates all that Aitutaki has to offer.
Saturday was a lagoon day with reef fishing, snorkelling with giant clams and BBQ lunch on One Foot Island followed by water sports in the afternoon skiing, wakeboarding and tubing behind the jetski.
The day finished with a kaikai at Mike Henry’s home hosted by the Maoate and Henry families. - MH (Photos on back page)