Jubilee and Hardham Cups, June 29
Match reports in Round 4 of the Jubilee Cup, and Norths v Upper Hutt in the Hardham Cup.
Tawa 34 (TJ Fermanis, James So'oialo, Tolu Fahamokioa, Pati Gaualofa tries, penalty try; James So'oialo 3 con, 1 pen) Poneke 17 (Tauasosi Tuimavave, Hennie Tui, Cole Stewart tries; Tauasosi Tuimavave 1 con). HT: 22-5 to Tawa.
WHAT HAPPENED: In an enthralling match held in resplendent conditions underfoot, Tawa led throughout the match and earned a bonus-point win against Poneke, who battled furiously in the second half and threw everything and everyone available at the dream of keeping their Jubilee Cup hopes alive.
In what would've been a textbook diffusion option in rugby league, Tauasosi Tuimavave batted the ball out that had held up in the dead ball zone after being chipped through by returning Samoan international and Tawa fullback James So'oialo. Referee Richard Gordon had no option but to award a penalty try with Tawa runners given the benefit of the doubt of scoring if Tuimavave had not grounded it first.
It wasn't long after that Tuimavave redeemed himself and showed a clean pair of heels in an 80-metre sprint to the try line. Had it not been for So'oialo chasing across the other flank to cut off his angle, he'd have had a better opportunity to convert his own try.
Tawa flanker TJ Fermanis sniffed out the line from broken play inside Poneke's 22 midway through the half and went through relatively unscathed. So'oialo showed no signs of jet lag or fatigue from his recent sojourn to South Africa when he touched down and converted his own try soon before the half-time whistle.
Their bonus-point try was earned quickly after the break with their other Samoan international, halfback Steven So'oialo, marshalling his troops to muscle Tolu Fahamokioa over the line for his second try this season.
In a backline that has seen more reshuffles than a deck of cards in Las Vegas, Tuimavave, who started the season at fullback, was first-five last week and was now on the wing, showed electric pace and sparked the Poneke team into action with a line break. After a multitude of penalties, No 8 Sam Tui took a quick tap and handed off to bustling impact player Hennie Tui who could not be denied so close to the line.
Returning Poneke first-five James Pointon contributed well in his second start and a line break from him set up a try at the end of many phases to second-five Cole Stewart.
Tawa had the last word with their final converted try at fulltime - to the obvious delight of their supporters.
STAR TURN: There was a phase of play that probably lasted about 15 minutes with no whistle heard. Take a bow referee Richard Gordon - the tweets about you are deserved. Jeff Makapelu was often seen running the ball up and being a general menace as well as giving his forwards a bit of a rest. Shaun Alaifea, in his second start for Poneke, combined well in a pack heavily affected by attrition and showed his ability to step up in the toughest rugby competition in Wellington.
BEST and FAIREST: 3 points Jeff Makapelu (Tawa), 2 points Sam Tui (Poneke), 1 point Pati Gaualofa (Tawa) and Shaun Alaifea (Poneke).
By Florence Masoe
Marist St Pats 27
MSP 27 (Sam Scown 2 tries, Jacob Taituave try, Bryce Blair try, Andrew Wells 2 con, pen) Oriental-Rongotai 27 (Trevor Marama try, Whetu Henry try, Fa'atonu Fili try, 3 con, 2 pen). Yellow card: Pau Halafihi (Ories). HT: 17-10 to Ories.
WHAT HAPPENED: There were no cheers of jubilation from either MSP or Ories today as a hard-fought match between the two teams ended in a frustrating draw.
Ories went into the fourth round of the Jubilee Cup undefeated, whereas MSP went in on the back of their first win last week, no doubt desperate to make it two in a row.
Ories were the first to get points on the board with an impressive penalty from way out by No 10 Fa'atonu Fili. He was also the scorer of 17 points for his team today.
Five of those points came when Fili made the most of an excellent Ories scrum and scored the first try of the match. A second Ories try came moments later when Trevor Marama walked through MSP's defence.
Chasing a deficit of 17 points, Andrew Wells finally got some points on the board for MSP with a penalty, which was quickly followed by a try by Jacob Taituave. Ories openside flanker Pau Halafihi was then yellow-carded to give the home team a helping hand in clawing their way back into the match.
MSP's half-time pep talk obviously did the trick, with the team gaining momentum and refusing to let go of it in the second half. Two excellent tries to Sam Scown gave MSP the lead before prop Bryce Blair bowled through the Ories defence to put his team up by 10 points.
Ories eventually responded with a try from Whetu Henry after MSP conceded a penalty 10m out. A further penalty from Ories was enough to tie the game.
THE BIG PLAY: Sam Scown's tries at the start of the second half signalled MSP's revival and was the turning point for his team. Special mention must also be made of the Ories forwards who dominated at scrum time. They all deserve a beer, steak and chips tonight.
STAR TURN: With two tries in under five minutes, we doff our cap to Sam Scown.
BEST and FAIREST: 3 Sam Scown (MSP), 2 Fa'atonu Fili (Ories), 1 Peter Sciascia (MSP).
By Jessica Roden
Hutt Old Boys Marist 37
Old Boys-University 22
HOBM 37 (Nick Risdon 3 tries, Tomasi Alosio try; Brandyn Laursen 4 cons, 3 pens) OBU 22 (Te Wehi Wright try, Jesse Johnson try, 4 pens) HT: 19-3 to OBU.
WHAT HAPPENED: A breathtaking second-half display earned Hutt Old Boys Marist a come-from-behind victory over Old Boys-University.
Down 19 points early in the second half, HOBM piled on 34 unanswered points to keep their unbeaten Jubilee Cup run intact.
OBU were the superior side in the first half. They repelled countless HOBM attacks with strong, driving defence and scored two well-taken tries.
Jesse Johnson was excellent filling the large boots left at first five by Super 15 players in the past two weeks and capped his half with a try following some good support running.
The half would have puzzled HOBM who did not play overly badly but found themselves down by 16.
They were their own worst enemy at times with James Kusel missing three penalty kicks to touch, bizarrely opting for right footed banana kicks when trying to find the left-hand touchline. Their open-play kicking also left a lot to be desired.
Into the second half and some cracks started to appear in the OBU defence as the game opened up. First Tomasi Alosio scored and then new dad Nick Risdon bundled over from close range.
OBU were still up 22-17 with 20 to go but the momentum was with HOBM as a shell-shocked OBU, who had performed so well as a team in the first half, had no answer for the waves of HOBM attacks.
Risdon, whose participation was in doubt until the baby was born yesterday, started sniping around the edges and found two more tries to complete his hat-trick and secure a bonus-point win for his team.
OBU will be disappointed but can consider themselves a tad unlucky to have run up against a rampant HOBM side in the second half. HOBM will return to the Hutt Rec next week for a blockbuster battle with fellow unbeaten side Oriental-Rongotai.
THE BIG PLAY: It didn't seem like a big play at the time, but with seconds remaining in the first half OBU speedster Te Wehi Wright looked clear of the HOBM defence only for hooker James O'Reilly to throw out a desperation ankle tap. Wright would have dotted down under the posts to make it 26-3 and who knows what could have happened from there.
STAR TURN: The new dad, Nick Risdon, stole the show in the second half with his hat-trick which kept HOBM's unbeaten Jubilee Cup record intact.
BEST and FAIREST: 3 Nick Risdon (HOBM half back), 2 Andrew McWhirter (OBU No. 8), 1 Brandyn Laursen (HOBM first-five). Hutt Rec.
By Liam Hyslop
Petone Randwick Meats 13 (Nick Grigg, Jeremiah Isopo tries, Carn Green pen) Wainuiomata 17 (John Monu try, Tyler Tane 4 pens). Yellow cards: Sam O'Leary (Petone); Jason Love, Ricky Jones (Wainui). HT: 14-3 to Wainuiomata.
WHAT HAPPENED: The sun shone on Petone Rec this weekend in vast contrast to last week's horrific weather but it was the visiting Wainuiomata side that felt the warmth at full time with a hard-fought but well-earned win over their near neighbours Petone.
Wainui started the match hot on attack from the kick-off and spent the first 10 minutes peppering the Petone line, but to the Villagers' credit they held Wainui out until Tyler Tane was able to kick the first of his four penalties.
A feature of the match was the amount of ball that the men from over the hill were able to pinch off Petone at ruck and maul time. It was from one of these very turnovers that Wainui scored their only try when the ball was fed out wide to the flying Jason Love who, with John Monu in support, chose the correct option with one defender to beat and gave the ball to first-five Monu who crossed out wide.
Tane (with two) and Petone halfback Carne Green swapped penalties to close out what was a very tight first half with possession and territory very evenly shared.
Petone started the second half using the advantage of a slight breeze to kick for the corners and brought Jared Kahu into the game which seemed to fire up the previously dormant Petone backline. Petone's first try came when Kahu put the elusive Nick Grigg through the gap for Petone's first try, then shortly after it was Grigg who fed the ball to Jeremiah Isopo to score in the corner.
It was during this time we saw Wainui replacement Ricky Jones sin-binned on a team warning.
Tane stretched the visitors' lead beyond three points with a penalty, so Petone needed a try to win. The final 10 minutes were very tense with Petone throwing everything at Wainui, but the Green and Black wall held fast.
An all-in brawl that spilled into one of the side-line dugouts showed how much this match meant to both teams, but in the end Wainui continued their recent domination over Petone.
For Wainui, Shahn Eru was dominant in the middle of the Wainui pack and was well assisted by flanker Glen Angus and No 8 Tiso Saolele, the Wainui backs had it over their opposites in the first half with Monu and Isaiah Mamea featuring, in contrast the second half was more of a forward trudge with Justin Va'a and Anthony Mamea doing the hard yards.
For Petone, Kafatolu was outstanding and was backed up in the loose by Josh Hrstich and Jack Wolfreys, Kahu made a huge difference when he entered the fray and debutant first five Taylor Henry gained confidence as the match went on, as usual Grigg was hard to put down and made some good breaks.
STAR TURN: Although on the losing side, Petone captain Mateaki Kafatolu was the outstanding player, making numerous charges with the ball and his defence stopped several promising Wainui attacks.
THE BIG PLAY: This came right on full time with Petone throwing to the lineout five meters out from the Wainui line. Big Wainui lock Shahn Eru leapt into the air and snatched the ball from what had been a very efficient home side lineout unit. This enabled the visitors to bundle the ball into touch and begin the celebrations.
BEST and FAIREST: 3 Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone), 2 Shahn Eru (Wainui), 1 Tiso Saolele (Wainui).
By Doug Smith
Northern United 14
Upper Hutt 26
Northern United 14 (Peato Lafaele try; Jackson Garden Bachop 3 penalties) Upper Hutt 26 (Kayne Hammington, Jordon Simpson-Heft tries; Ben Aiona 2 con, 4 pen). HT: Norths 14-6. Yellow cards: John White-Silva (Norths), Telea Seumanutafa (Norths).
WHAT HAPPENED: Upper Hutt made home side Norths pay for an error-ridden and ill-disciplined performance. Dropped passes, missed touch finders, unforced turnovers, poor ball control at scrums and kick-offs - Norths' performance had it all. Plus two separate yellow cards, Norths playing 20 minutes of the second half with 14 players.
Upper Hutt obliged, coming back from an eight-point halftime deficit. They took the lead midway through the second half and delivered the knockout blow with five minutes to play when outstanding halfback Kayne Hammington chipped over the top and flying fullback Jordan Simpson-Heft reeled in a try. First five-eighth Ben Aoina added the conversion and also a penalty on fulltime to deny Norths a bonus point.
Norths had their chances and broke a well-contested, albeit scrappy, game open just before halftime when right wing Perry Hayman ran back an aimless kick in general play and linked up with centre Nene Va'alepu and 150-game fullback Peato Lafale, who scored in the corner.
They then undid their good work when hooker John White-Silva was sin-binned on halftime.
Upper Hutt came out fizzing after the interval and Hammington sniped to score after an excellent build-up and interchange of passing involving several players. Aoina's conversion closed the deficit to a point.
Norths regrouped and pressed hard. But the pendulum swung back Upper Hutt's way with a turnover in the tackle made by Aoina and an 80-metre counter-attack leading to Norths replacement lock Telea Seumanutafa being sin-binned and Aoina kicking a penalty to take the lead.
Apart from Hammington, blindside flanker Murphy Taramai was dynamic, making several big runs, lock Solomona Sio toiled hard and their midfield pairing of Joyner Key and Nick Pearson added punch. For Norths, they were missing two of their best players through injury and illness - openside flanker Dean Brunsdon and hooker Henry Smith.
THE BIG PLAY: Aoina's steal in the tackle with Norths hard on attack and leading by a point and Upper Hutt's breakout up-field that resulted in Seumanutafa being sin-binned and Upper Hutt kicking a penalty and taking the lead for the first time.
STAR TURN: It's a shame when quality players are left playing in the Hardham Cup for the second half of the season. Players like Hammington would walk into any Jubilee Cup squad. His electric running game from rucks and beautiful passing game were instrumental in this win.
By Steven White
The Dominion Post