Home > News > Archive > 14th June 2005

Triple treat for sports fans

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Magic Moment, Jonno Gibbes

Te Awamutu sports fans had their greatest weekend ever - with Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic winning netball’s holy grail, Te Awamutu Sports’ winger Sitiveni Sivivatu setting an All Black record with four tries on debut against Fiji and clubmate Jono Gibbes leading the Maori magnificently to an historic win over the Lions. Adding to an unforgettable weekend, Steven Bates was named captain of the Junior All Blacks (see page 3 of this week's Courier).

The seeds for Magic’s National Bank Cup success were sown in Te Awamutu - and nowhere was Friday night’s stunning final performance better appreciated.

Coach Noeline Taurua says Te Awamutu is the one community where Magic players and administrators always feel welcome - “Te Awamutu is definitely our home venue”.

Sleepyhead-sponsored Magic returned to their training base and scene of this year’s pre-National Bank Cup tournament, Trust Waikato Te Awamutu Events Centre, for a solid hit out a week before the final.

They took on a team studded with stars like Vilimaina Davu, with umpires asked not to rule defensive penalties in Magic’s attacking third.

“There are three reasons we regard Te Awamutu as our home base,” Taurua says. “Firstly the (ASB Bank) Stadium, secondly the support we have always enjoyed from mayor Alan Livingston (who is on the Magic board) and thirdly the wonderful support of Te Awamutu people and businesses in general who have made the pre-National Bank Cup tournament such a success.”

Taurua predicts that Te Pahu teenager Laura Langman, who had a massive game in the final at centre, will be a better player than Sandra Edge. It’s a big call, as Edge was an iconic Silver Fern who re-wrote world standards in centre play. Taurua says Langman has improved throughout the season after making the huge positional change from wing defence to centre.

“She’s come up against some of the big power players in New Zealand netball, like Lesley Rumble and Temapara George, and more than held her own. Her defence is one of her strengths and she can also get us the ball high up in the court. Her feeding of the attack has come along leaps and bounds. She has great spirit and can just lead the charge - all game she gives 100%, her passion, drive and commitment can easily uplift a team.”

But it is the whole Magic outfit that deserve a pat on the back after running the six-times Cup champions ragged in the final. Coach Noeline Taurua and manager Trish Duggan planned their National Bank Cup campaign so meticulously and their professionalism rubbed off on the players.

Langman’s father Greg was one of the lucky 136 Magic supporters who flew to Invercargill to see the game live. Mr Langman told the Courier that it was an experience he will never forget. He paid a special tribute to the Southern Sting supporters who gave the small Magic contingent, including Bay of Plenty cheerleader Hori Bop, a standing ovation when they entered the Stadium.

“And they carried that goodwill right through to the final whistle and beyond,” said Mr Langman. “It was like we had the home final in a funny kind of way.”

Te Awamutu rugby star Andy Baker gave the New Zealand Maori team 10 out of 10 after their win over the British and Irish Lions.

‘I’ve never known a team, especially a Maori team, to come out and play for the entire 80 minutes like this one did. Maori teams of the past have been known to do the business, but then let the opposition catch up - it’s how they’ve played for years.”

Baker said the Jono Gibbes’ led side had a far greater desire to win with coach Matt Te Pou’s retirement and Carlos Spencer playing his last game. “It was a fourth test, played at the top end.”

Baker should know a good Maori side when he sees one. The ex -Te Awamutu St Pat’s, Te Awamutu Peace Cup and Waikato rep played for New Zealand Maori from 1979 to 1983, featuring in internationals against Australia, Wales, Spain, Fiji and Tonga at either first five or fullback.