Lesser lights shine against leaders
Who said Manawatu had a lopsided club competition?
Well we, the Manawatu Standard, did after a host of cricket scores last week. Then on Saturday the lesser lights turned it on and forced us to eat humble pie.
Freyberg almost scored the upset of the century over Varsity at Massey University before the students won with a 79th-minute penalty. Old Boys-Marist recovered from a 65-point belting by College Old Boys to beat Feilding Old Boys-Oroua by scoring all 16 points in the second half.
And Kia Toa required a try four minutes from time to beat winless Feilding Yellows.
OB-Marist 25 FOB-Oroua 21 For OB-Marist coach John Fisher, the win was just the confidence-builder his young side should profit from.
"It's what we needed after last week to show we could be competitive," he said.
And when his men realised they could win the game, they came up with a new-found ferocity to hold out the Stags' forward charges at the line.
But shoddy defence had contributed to the Stags' 21-9 lead, three converted tries to three penalties. FOB-Oroua scored easily and should have had more but inexplicably didn't use the wind blowing to the Waldegrave corner. Their tries came from two Gene Ropoama breaks and a lineout drive by their best player, No8 Sam Aupouri.
Their wide passes outflanked OBM's compressed defence. But they suffered from crooked lineout throwing by Tim Bailey and OBM quickly got back in the game after halftime, Sililo Sae scoring after five minutes. OBM camped in the Stags' half for most of it, aside from a huge Aupouri burst, and with the Stags losing key men to injuries, prop Isaac Tupai brushed off tacklers to snatch the lead.
Others Stags to shine were prop Ropoama and Jeremy Waitoa while OBM's John Missen was strong all day at second-five as were locks Dan Law and Grayson Donnelly.
At Arena Manawatu: Old Boys-Marist 25 (Sililo Sae, Isaac Tupai tries; Adrian Curry 5 pen) FOB-Oroua 21 (Zeak Kelly, Sam Aupouri, Gareth Watts, tries; Paora Rakatau 3 con), HT 21-9.Varsity 20 Freyberg 17Talk about being blindsided. Had a Freyberg player not blatantly come around offside in a ruck in front of the posts at the end, they would have had a historical win.
Varsity were under-powered with their NZ Universities players away but they usually put 50 points on Freys who were without Viliami Fakava and Brendon Chappell. Not this day. Freyberg had the better of the first half with the wind behind despite being heavily pinged by the referee and having player-coach Tasi Tahuna sent off after two yellow cards, the last for impeding a runner. They had 14 men for 20 minutes of the second half.
"We're getting closer," Tahuna said. "We'll target next week's game against Yellows."
Freyberg outscored Varsity, fullback Carter Hirini running the length of the field from a Varsity kickoff and second-five Davis Tavita scoring two. No8 Junior Tunufai had another huge game. They led 17-3 at halftime.
Varsity's winning penalty from 30 metres out came after the ref got in the way of Tunufai running from a scrum. Varsity scored almost from the kickoff after halftime and had way more ball in the second half. But they wasted overlaps until they scored to get back to 17-all.
At Massey University: Varsity 20 (Sam Healy, Troy Stevenson tries; Clayton Stewart 2 con, 2 pen) Freyberg 17 (Davis Tavita 2, Carter Hirini, tries; Tavita con) HT 17-3. Kia Toa 22 Feilding 20
The poor Yellows led until the winning try four minutes from fulltime. Even then Feilding's Brad Carr missed a penalty from the sideline with a minute left.
Feilding led 14-0 at halftime after tries in the 35th and 38th minutes and by pressuring Kias at the breakdown. But in the 10 minutes after halftime, Kias scored twice to tie it up at 10-all. At 14-all it was anyone's, and the same at 17-all after a Carr dropped goal and a Kias penalty.
Even then Carr put Yellows ahead 20-17 with a penalty but Kia Toa upped the pressure. From a scrum No8 Fraser Stone picked and ran and when play swung back, centre Tevita Taufui scored in the corner.
Feilding were much improved, especially in the lineout, and Kias a little flat. Feilding's best were No8 Mua Sala, halfback Mike Papps, lock Daniel Giesen, flanker Dylan Marino and prop Luke Clarke. Jade Te Rure and wing Simeli Vana shone for Kias.
At Johnston Park: Kia Toa 22 (Jason Temara, Tevita Taufui, Simeli Vana, tries; Jade Te Rure 2 con, pen) Feilding 20 (Michael Papps, Daniel Giesen tries; Brad Carr 2 con, pen, dg) HT 14-0.
College OB 58 Linton Army 15
Linton go well for the first 40 each week, holding competition leaders COB to 20-15 at halftime similar to what they had done the previous week against Varsity.
But COB ended up scoring eight tries to two, first-five Brad Truesdale guiding them round the field with his boot, aided by outstanding Turbos lock Hamish Gosling and NZ under-20s triallist wing Willie Paia'aua. Linton held their own in the first spell, in territory and possession. But COB took control at scrum and maul after 30 minutes and attacked through the forwards.
COB scored all 38 points in the second half, including two tries in the first 10 after halftime and the score blew out, Truesdale plugging the corners and COB charging from lineouts. Somehow Linton No8 Grant Robson cleared from a scrum reeling backwards and flanker Casey Lowe had a strong game. But Linton were killed out wide once Karl Bryson came on at halfback and Cyrus Baker switched back from wing to second five.
At Linton Camp: COB 58 (Eugene Gerrard, Damian Horgan, Hamish Gosling, Willie Paia'aua, Karl Bryson, Andrew Durston, Brad Truesdale, Bryce Henderson, tries; Truesdale 5 con, pen) Linton Army 15 (R White, N Cooper, tries; Kapieriere Wharerewa con, pen) HT 20-15.
- Manawatu Standard
How will the Hurricanes do in 2015?Related story: Supporting players light up Hurricanes bright start to Super Rugby season