Nelson Bay Gropers outclass Pokolbin 50-5 in Hunter Suburban Rugby series

Nelson Bay’s star recruit Khace Petera prepares to shut down the Pokolbin attack with team mates Dan Arnfield, Liam Keating, Danien Bryant and Hamish Bartlett during the Gropers’ 50-5 rugby triumph.

HE hails from the historic Foxton Rugby Club on the north island of New Zealand and has quickly left his mark across the Tasman on the Hunter Suburban Men’s competition.

Nineteen-year-old playmaker Khace Petera is the name on everyone’s lips as the Nelson Bay Gropers continue their resurgence in the 2024 series.

The Kiwi recruit has proved an asset for the Gropers at half back this season – engineering four successive victories since donning the number nine sky blue and black jumper.

Petera’s natural ball skills and dynamic running have sparked the premiers in recent weeks after a slow start to their campaign that featured back-to-back losses.

Last Saturday in muddy conditions the talented colt switched to five eighth and spearheaded a rousing 50-5 victory over the Pokolbin Reds to lift the Gropers into a share of second spot on the table with 22 points.

He replaced star fly half Ilisoni Vonomatairatu, who was unavailable for the clash, and turned in a best on ground performance.

Nelson Bay coach Michael Wiringi told News of The Area that young Petera has made “a massive impact on Hunter rugby” since linking with the reigning champions.

“Khace has made a smooth transition to the Suburban competition with his sound kicking game, clever passing and sharp running a feature of our four wins to date,” revealed Wiringi.

“He will be a key player for us as the season unfolds,” the master coach added.

Wiringi blooded eighteen-year-old half backs Jack Ballard and Jake Langsford during the comprehensive triumph, with both grabbing their opportunities.

Crack fullback Will Dunn, centres Michael Hotene and Daniel Arnfield, lock Isaac Laracy and industrious forwards Mitch Workman, Lewis Affleck, Hamish Bartlett, Zion Takarua and hooker Liam Keating also turned in strong displays for the premiers, who led 17-5 at the break.

Affleck, Hotene and winger Danien Bryant crossed for first half tries before flanker Sam Rocher, front rower Riley Byfield, utility Ryan Marshall, rising colt Darcy Blue and the teak-tough Workman added five pointers in the second stanza.

The gifted Petera capped a superb game by potting four conversions.

A highlight was the versatile Marshall fooling the Reds defence with his turn of speed to nab a cracking try in “race horse style”.

Nelson Bay will be chasing a fifth consecutive victory this Saturday when they tackle the Muswellbrook Heelers at Highbrook Park at 1pm.

By Chris KARAS

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