Renwick stop Harlequins in tracks
Renwick celebrated their annual club day in the best possible way by ending Harlequins unbeaten run in the Wadsco Marlborough premier club rugby competition on Saturday.
Played in front of a typically boisterous home crowd, the Green Machine ignored injuries to key players to cause the biggest boilover of the year and thoroughly deserved their success which came with a four-try bonus point.
Last seasons champions Waitohi are starting to awake from their early season slumber and, in a virtual replay of last year's final, just held on to beat Awatere 23-18 in a thriller at Car Horn Valley in Seddon.
At Awarua Park, Central closed the gap on Harlequins to four points with a solid, hard-fought 24-10 over an improving Moutere side, Rawiri Tamati's goal-kicking proving the main difference in a niggly encounter which at one stage had Central reduced to 12 players as referee Dave Woodhouse handed out the yellow cards.
Attention next Saturday now turns to the much-anticipated Tasman Trophy competition between Marlborough and Nelson clubs.
RENWICK 26 HARLEQUINS 22
Underestimate Renwick at your peril. That's the clear message the Green Machine handed out to a shell-shocked Harlequins on Saturday at Renwick Domain.
It was anything but pleasant for Harlequins and their disbelieving supporters, given they had dispatched everyone else with relative ease up until then.
Coach Baz Henare said the plan to beat Harlequins started at training on Tuesday night.
Losing their skipper Hamish Greenwood for the year with a badly broken jaw last week was a huge blow, but Greenwood came down to the ground and the few words he said to the team before they went into battle worked a treat, Henare said.
"That fired them up. It was a great team effort. We changed our tactics from normal.
"We targeted them around the fringes, played it closer.
"Good for the boys and the club. Big support. Fantastic."
Henare had special praise for his unsung front row of Ryan McQuillan, Rowan Ingpen and Will McGruddy.
While they might be physically smaller than their opposition, their attitude, skill and workrate more than made up for that and behind them, halfback Ryan Schollum was outstanding as he directed play around the key areas.
Midfield back Rikki Winitana had a fine game, scoring a try against his old club and lock Amco Cassidy brought the house down with a long range intercept try.
Fullback BJ Bampton and winger Jade Bevan also scored. Harlequins manager Don Barrett said his team took the defeat on the chin and only had themselves to blame.
He felt they had enough possession, territory and opportunities to win comfortably but poor handling was a key factor and also, he said, complacency may have been an issue.
Jason Sekai and Stu Dalzell scored the Quins' tries and their efforts weren't helped by injuries to key players including the Tau'alupe brothers Willie and Richard.
Best of a beaten Harlequins team, Barrett said, were flanker Brayden Green, lock Nick Allen and in the backs, Greg Marfell and George Millar had their moments.
WAITOHI 23 AWATERE 18
There were too many errors for it to be a classic game of rugby but it didn't matter to the spectators lining both touchlines because what it may have lacked in technical excellence was certainly made up for in excitment and closeness.
It turned into a virtual replay of last year's nailbiting final with the same outcome. Waitohi began impressively, creating numerous scoring opportunities. However they only had a Joe Va'atuitui try to show for their efforts and by halftime, Awatere had their noses in front 10-7, winger Kieran Hickman joining in a forward rumble for a trademark Awatere try.
Waitohi edged ahead 13-10 when replacement first-five Daniel Hawkins kicked a penalty then a fine 30 metre field goal.
George Davies levelled it for Awatere with a penalty then Waitohi should have scored from the kickoff but a forward pass ruined the move.
Livewire hooker Billy Collins dived over to put Awatere in front with 11 minutes remaining but just when it appeared the home side were gaining an edge, Waitohi hit back. Three times they were held up over the try-line but eventually the pressure told and impressive lock Daniel Karena stretched out to score and level at 18-18. Hawkins missed a simple conversion then a close range penalty, but the Tohis clinched victory when fullback Jayden Waters strolled over, capitalising on a wayward Awatere clearing kick under pressure.
Awatere stormed upfield from the kickoff, got over Waitohi's try-line but couldn't produce a try.
Standouts for Waitohi were Karena and Va'atuitui. Winger Sini Tavake made a couple of strong runs and Hawkins impressed in general play. For Awatere, Sam Lunn, Tom Loe and Gareth Archer played well. Fullback Nick Pope, halfback Sam Clouston and winger Kieran Hickman impressed.
CENTRAL 24 MOUTERE 10
Central's ability from broken field play is where they had the edge over a Moutere side down on form and confidence this season.
The Blues led 8-3 at halftime and, like most games this year, Moutere were in the match – even more so when midfielder Benji Keenan scored. Moutere held up solidly in set-pieces where prop Tasi Faiumu shone and won Moutere's Player of the Day award. Experienced lock Stu Campbell also hoed in with a wholehearted effort and in the backs, winger Greg Blick, back after a season's absence, had a strong game.
Central coach Neville Saul was not happy after the match with having three of his players sin-binned at one stage late in the match by referee Dave Woodhouse but on the other hand, Moutere coach Laurin Gane was quite happy with the ref's performance.
Despite the discipline issues, the result was good for Central as they cemented second spot despite having room for improvement. They had to work hard to win and scored the try of the match through fullback Blair Skipper in a 70-metre move initiated by halfback Willie Alaiasa.
First-five Rawiri Tamati directed play superbly and his goal-kicking was spot-on as he landed five goals from six attempts. Prop Riley Luke drew high praise from coach Saul as did lock Jeremy Foley for his strong efforts in a match Saul said had too much niggly play and the high penalty count meant they were unable to gain any momentum.
- The Marlborough Express
Who will win the Press Cup on Saturday, 2.30pm, Lansdowne Park, Blenheim?