Linton's running warms up Varsity for semifinal clash
There is starting to be a pattern with the Linton Army soldiers putting the wind up Varsity.
Varsity escaped against them again with a 33-20 win at Massey University after sneaking past Linton 20-17 in the first round.
But midway through the second spell and beating into the westerly, Linton were playing old-style Varsity rugby. After being behind 15-5 at halftime, the soldiers' escape strategy was to ban kicking and run from everywhere.
By doing just that Linton got ahead 17-15 and they had the individual standouts, Lloyd Carter constantly busting the blue defence with Reece and Angus White, Hakarangi Tichborne, Nick Fakahau and lock Matthew Cressy in support.
Ben James set up the first try when his kicked rebounded back into his arms and he later converted a try into the wind with a freak drop kick.
Papa Wharewera set up another with a perfect top-spinning kick over the forwards and Carter pounced on it and ran away.
Linton though paid for their loose carries, losing too much ball when attacking into the wind. Varsity had busted Linton in close in the first half and they lost fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder with a gashed nose after only eight minutes.
Varsity kicked deep with the wind in the second half, a penalty try came after a dangerous Linton tackle which allowed Varsity to gallop away in the final 10 with Linton's two-try wing Matene Simeon in the bin.
Linton were chasing four tries, but got into the Val Holland Trophy final anyway after FOB-Oroua tipped up Te Kawau.
Varsity's best were flanker Doug Juszczyk, prop Nick Grogan and first-five Clayton Stewart.
Linton have the core of a doughty side for next season while Varsity can expect Kia Toa to attack them in a similar running manner in next Saturday's semifinal.
At Massey University: Varsity 33 (Clayton Stewart 2, Nick Birchfield tries; pen try; Stewart 3 pen, 2 con) Linton Army 20 (Matene Simeon 2, Lloyd Carter, tries; Ben James con, pen) HT 15-5. College OB 43 OB-Marist 7
COB, with 15 wins from 16, won the psychological battle over their previous conquerors OB-Marist on Saturday, a week out from the two of them doing it all over again in the semifinals next weekend.
Seven tries to one was comprehensive, even if OBM might not have had their hearts in it and were fielding a reconfigured backline with players out of position.
Tarnishing it for COB was losing prop Damian Horgan, red-carded for alleged stomping and he must await his fate. Even so, the COB scrum shunted OBM off the ball all game, aside from two scrums which were depowered when OBM ran out of props.
COB could afford to bring on quality reinforcements like Tim Cadwallader and Sam Stevens as subs. COB made ground every time their backs or forwards got the ball and in the first half OBM took 36 minutes to get into COB's 22.
OBM fired a few shots in the second half, but welcomed the final whistle. COB's heroes were locks Charles McDonald and Johnny Galloway, Otere Black and prop Jeremy McKenzie. Their wing, Willie Paia'aua, finished as the top try-scorer in club rugby with 21.
At Arena Manawatu: COB 43 (Willie Paia'aua 2, Charles MacDonald, James Koloto, Karl Bryson, Johnny Galloway, Cyrus Baker, tries; Otere Black 4 con) OB-Marist 7 (Liam Nichols try; Bain Champion con) HT 26-0. FOB-Oroua 24 Te Kawau 14
Played in a bitter crossfield wind, FOB-Oroua were anything but chilled in their bonus-point win which denied Te Kawau a place in the Val Holland final.
The Stags out-passioned the Real Blokes in a game which seldom flowed amid an avalanche of breakdown penalties. FOB-Oroua dominated for long periods led by flanker Eddie Cranston and with Jamie Perigo marshalling the backline defence.
They scored their third try early in the second half when Te Kawau turned their backs and Adam Mabey dived over from a quick tap instead of kicking for goal.
Te Kawau's sole try came wide out near the tail of the game. Where FOB hoed in, Te Kawau seemed to have altitude sickness and were slow around the ground and didn't capitalise on anything, aside from the usual, flanker Doug Horrocks.
It meant Te Kawau were winless in the second round which coach Alistair Mitchell wasn't happy about, especially after beating the Stags 33-12 in the first round.
At Kimbolton: FOB-Oroua 24 (Jamie Perigo 2, Adam Mabey, Eddie Cranston, tries; Mabey pen) Te Kawau 14 (Guy Rowden try; Ethan Woodmass 3 pen) HT 13-9. Feilding 38 Freyberg 12
Feilding looked ready to plant 60 on Freys with the wind coming in from Siberia, but scored one solitary try with the gale behind them in the second spell.
In a scrappy game, Freys perked up in the second half, although by halftime they trailed 33-5 and couldn't convert their possession into points. Freyberg led 5-0 for 15 minutes only to miss touch from a penalty, all the momentum swung to Yellows and they didn't see the ball for the next 25 minutes.
Brad Carr in his 250th game for Feilding twice carved up and set up tries. Once Feilding outflanked Freyberg they had too much speed.
Hooker Ese Fakatoka and second-five Sione Nisa, against his old club, shone for Yellows.
For Freys, whose season is over, flankers Michael Lockwood and Viliami Fakava, centre Carlos Third and first-five Michael Coker were their best.
At Colquhoun Park: Feilding 38 (Ese Fakatoka, Api Ratugoleanavanua, Billy Raboiliku, Hayden Stratford, Nathan Ramsay, Brad Carr, tries; Carr 4 con) Freyberg 12 (Viliami Fakava, Michael Coker, tries; Coker con) HT 33-5. In senior second, Massey Rams inflicted the first loss on leaders Feilding by 14-10 at Massey University on Saturday and lifted the David Hands Challenge Cup in the process.