WAIKIWI were given a reality check by Pioneer on Saturday, although Waikiwi coach Derek Manson believes the Gore club can be toppled as the season progresses.
Waikiwi started their 2018 division three rugby campaign with a 25-17 win over Tokanui in round one.
That was followed by a 37-34 loss to Riverton, before they were then humbled 43-7 by Pioneer on Saturday.
Waikiwi trailed 12-0 at half-time before conceding 31 second-half points.
“Saturday was frustrating, but if we can play to our potential we can [beat Pioneer],” Manson said.
Manson said Waikiwi had retained about 80% to 90% of their squad from last year, which was encouraging. On top of that Waikiwi have picked up some new players, including three school leavers.
“Across the board we are a pretty young team. But what they might lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm.”
Among that outh there are still some old hands to help lead the way.
Included is captain and lock Nick McCleery, who brought up game No 150 for Waikiwi in the showdown with Pioneer on Saturday.
“This season he is probably playing the best that I’ve seen him play,” Manson said.
Outside backs Matt Moynihan and Shawn Henderson are also key figures in the Waikiwi set up. Henderson is particularly important in Waikiwi’s attack.
“When we do spark things he prompts a lot of that spark.”
Halfback Josh Campbell is another player impressing so far this season.
Manson said it was always a battle given the number of Invercargill-based teams on the hunt for players each year. However, numbers in general were still good at Waikiwi although like a lot of teams it could do with some more front rowers.
“We’ve got a pretty good group who have a lot of fun, and they want to keep coming back each year, which is great.”
As well as the division three team, Waikiwi also has a President’s grade team and traditionally have strong junior playing numbers as well.
Waikiwi’s next division three game will be against Drummond-Limehills-Star on Saturday.
2018 Waikiwi squad
Mathew Pocklington, Jono Van’t Wout, Brock Wills, Jazz Creedy, Bailey Dow, Reagan Brown, Michael Shephard, Dave Wilson, Nick McCleery, Josh Van’t Wout, Piet Grandiek, Joel Ropiha, Triton Bain, Harry Taane, Trent Hamilton, Tyren Cormack, Josh Campbell, Thomas Grey, Liam McWilliam, Kurt Weavers, Shai Mitchell, Ryan Munro, Michael Henderson, Ben Maw, Mathew Moynihan, Kiel McPhee, Shawn Henderson, Bailey Harris