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Clarke and Paremata-Plimmerton want to seal silverware

  • By Adam Julian

Paremata-Plimmerton is hoping to take the Swindale Shield back to their clubrooms this coming Saturday evening.

Paremata-Plimmerton overpowered Petone 53-24 while nearest rivals Old Boys University slipped 25-31 at Upper Hutt leaving a five-point gap between the Hammerheads and the Billygoats ahead of their final round fixture at Rugby League Park on Saturday.

Paremata-Plimmerton has won 11 out of 12 matches in 2023. In 2022 they won four out of 13. Between 2015 and 2021 the record was 86 defeats in 94 games. In 2015, 2017, and 2021 not a single victory was achieved in the Swindale Shield.

Sam Clarke played for Manawatū in the NPC last year. The Turbos failed to win a single match for the first time since 1919. In 2020 Clarke helped Norths make the Jubilee Cup final.

“There’s not a single thing to blame for losing all the time. There’s a lot of dynamics, injuries, or lack of depth that can happen,” Clarke observed.

“I got limited minutes in Manawatū which has made me hungrier to get back in there, work harder and smarter, and achieve my dream of being a professional rugby player.”

Leaving Palmerston North and settling at Paremata-Plimmerton was a risk but Clarke could see the changes afoot at Ngati Toa Domain.

“The coaching staff was the biggest reason I came. Gerrard Fasavalu, Matt Poutoa, and Frank Rees create an unreal culture that brings out the best in people. They know when to coach and when to let the players drive things. There’s a good balance between serious and fun.

On Saturday Paremata-Plimmerton initially captured the ire of the referee. When disciplinary lessons were heeded the Hammerheads were joyful, ruthless, and clinical. They scored 36 unanswered points to swing a 19-12 deficit into a 48-19 lead. Clarke scored a try right on halftime to shift momentum and kicked a 50/22 early in the second spell as Petone was consigned to their first defeat in a month.

Action during the premier rugby match between Paremata-Plimmerton  v Petone, on 17 June 2023, at Ngatitoa Domain, Mana, Wellington, New Zealand. Final score Final score 53-24 to Paremata-Plimmerton.

“It was a dream start to the second half. We scored two tries in two minutes and you can’t ask for much more than that.

“We didn’t change much at halftime, just reinforced what our roles are and tried to do them better. I’ve played a lot with Esi Komaisavai, Dale Sabbagh, and Luke Kapene at Norths. They’re key game drivers. We’ve got a lot of trust in each other.

“There was a little wind, enough to make an impact. The good thing about Ngati Toa is that it runs north to south, so you know you’re going to get the elements in one half and not the other. We had the wind in the second half.”

Paremata-Plimmerton won the Ken Gray Memorial Trophy named after the legendary All Blacks prop of both clubs. It was presented by Ken’s wife Joy.

“There’s a real buzz among the guys who have been here a long time and aren’t used to winning. It’s a proud club with a lot of history and great people,” Clarke said.

A large contingent of Clarke’s family was present to watch Sam tussle against his younger brother, Petone fullback Tjay. Tjay kicked three penalties but was otherwise subbed.

“It’s the first time I’ve played my brother in a senior match. He’s been training with the Hurricanes and installing vending machines. When that wind got up, I enjoyed peppering him. He’s usually cheeky but might not be saying anything for a while.”

Attempts to contact Tjay for comment were fruitless.

Paremata-Plimmerton lost their first game of the season to Upper Hutt. They have won 11 on the bounce since and scored more points (518) and tries (78) than any other club. Only Ories (21-17) and Johnsonville (21-20) have got within a converted try of the Hammerheads.

“We could have lost the Johnsonville game. They had a kick to win it,” Clarke said.

“Every team has their good points. There is no easy game. OBU will be a real test for us on Saturday. They have been a benchmark for years. We’ll have to match them physically, shut down their threats and do our roles.”

Clarke trains every day while cray fishing with his dad. He has played 37 (29 wins) premier games for Tawa, Norths, and Paremata-Plimmerton scoring 271 points. In 2021 he scored 30 points for Norths in a 90-5 win over Paremata-Plimmerton.

The Huddy Hui also chatted with Sam Clarke this week, watch below: 

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