Sport News Taranaki: Moving moment to honor Sean Wainui before the match

Members of Team Taranaki and Manawatū perform a haka in honor of Sean Wainui before the NPC match. Photo / John Velvin

Taranaki and Manawatū players gathered to honor Sean Wainui ahead of their Bunnings Provincial National Championship game in Inglewood on Saturday.

Wainui died in a car accident Monday morning. He represented the Chiefs 44 times and Taranaki 53 times before moving to Bay of Plenty for this season. He was 25 years old.

As many teams did, the two made it to TET Stadium together on a still hot afternoon. Manawatū and officials wore black armbands and Taranaki players wore red, green and gold around their arms and wrists.

On what would have been his 26th birthday, a minute of silence was observed before kick-off.

Taranaki captain and former teammate Teihorangi Walden and Manawatū’s Jason Emery then donned Wainui’s amber and black jersey halfway through.

A selection of players and support staff from both teams performed a touching haka, Tika Tonu, who was one of Wainui’s favorites in a poignant tribute.

The crowd of 1,400 people applauded to show their respect before a dark moment just before kickoff where you could feel a fly fly.

Speaking after Taranaki’s 47-35 win, Walden said it was an incredibly emotional week for the team.

“We lost one of our brothers and we’ll be here tomorrow to send a brother. We’re just trying to focus on the good memories we have with Seany. That one was for Seany on his birthday too,” a- he declared.

Walden was delighted to win the match, which is Taranaki’s seventh in a row, for the first time since 2017, and remains undefeated in the competition.

During the match, Taranaki scored six tries to five.

Manawatū scored first, followed by two shots on goal from Stephen Perofeta for Taranaki early in the game.

After a penalty try at Taranaki, half-back Liam Blyde scored a brace in the opening stanza, including a nice kick to help the home side lead 25-7 at the break.

Manawatū recovered his way in the second half and closed the lead to four points after a flurry of testing.

Taranaki found his mojo with tries from Perofeta, new winger Vereniki Tikoisolomone and debutant Josh Jacomb.

Manawatū’s Drew Wild scored full time, but the damage was done.

Taranaki has a two-week hiatus before playing Southland on Sunday, November 7.

Taranaki 47 (Liam Blyde 2, Stephen Perofeta, Vereniki Tikoisolomone, Josh Jacomb tries, penalty try; Perofeta 3 v, 3 pen)
Manawatu 35 (Josiah Maraku, Tima Fainga’anuku, Ed Fidow, Griffin Culver, Drew Wild tries; Stewart Cruden 5 vs.).
HT: 25-7