Inexperienced Orcas show class with victory over South Island
The Wellington Orcas fielded 11 rookies but "kept the faith" to score a rare representative victory in Christchurch by stinging the South Island Scorpions yesterday.
Coach Trevor Clark hailed his team's resolve from coming back from 14 points down in the first 14 minutes to beat the South Island 30-20 in their Albert Baskerville Trophy premiership opening round match at Denton Oval.
"We just needed to keep the faith - the boys said that themselves. That's all we did and obviously the possession turned and we got a bit of ball and were able to complete our sets - all basic stuff."
Clark said it was the Orcas' first win over the South Island in the national zone championships format. "To come down here and win is a pretty special effort. We had 11 players making their Wellington debuts out there today."
Clark said fullback Johnny Tealaga was outstanding for the Orcas and skipper Matt Everitt, who scored two second-half tries, was also influential.
"But it was our goal-line defence in that second half that won it for us."
South Island coach Brent Stuart said his team started superbly with three slickly-executed tries to new centre Vila Apu'ula, skipper Josh Reuben and debutant winger Will Tafua.
But the former Kiwis prop lamented the Scorpions' dropoff in intensity. "Credit to Wellington - they didn't look at the scoreboard, they just kept playing. They deserved to win. It all came down to mental attitude."
Tealaga, who cut South to ribbons regularly, had a try disallowed after a neat inside ball by Everitt. Referee Glen Black spotted an earlier infringement and awarded South a scrum feed.
But there was no doubt about winger Bernard Gregorious' try in the 33rd minute as he waltzed through the South defence with hardly a hand laid on him.
Wellington made some cheap metres up the middle before forward Josh Hoffman stormed over for the second try. Winger Hayden Lewis added a third on the stroke of halftime.
South's tenuous 14-12 halftime lead was rubbed out soon after the restart when Everitt scored a try under the posts.
South's hooker Manu Weepu wriggled over from dummy-half to put the Scorpions back in front 20-18.
But Orcas forward Saimon Lomaloma exposed the Scorpions' slack defence to wrest back the lead for Wellington and Everitt put it beyond the Scorpions' reach with his second try.
- The Dominion Post