Central get better of town rugby rivals Harlequins
Central kick started their 2017 division one rugby campaign at a rain-soaked Lansdowne Park on Thursday night.
The previously-winless Blues scored seven tries to two against town rival Harlequins, prevailing 45-20 in what was a free-flowing encounter despite the treacherous conditions.
To their credit, both sides endeavoured to hold onto the ball, rather than kick for position, and the hardy spectators were rewarded with several well-executed tries.
The sides appeared evenly-matched up to the break, at which point Central led 19-13. However, a burst of 26 unanswered points pushed the Blues into an unassailable 45-13 lead and, although Harlequins finished strongly, they were unable to make a major impression on the deficit.
Leading the charge for the defending Marlborough champions were loose forwards Braden Stewart, Jesse MacDonald and Reyne Volavola, lock Jesse Eising, plus new arrival, Makos centurion Robbie Malneek who slotted in superbly at fullback.
Quins were well served by midfielders Ula Fotu and Viliami Lolohea, locks Willie Tau'alupe and Joel Ahrens, plus winger Matt Biggar.
Renwick rebounded smartly from their loss to Waitohi last weekend with a 19-15 win over Moutere at Awarua Park. In a game of two distinct halves the Magpies led 15-0 at the break before the Green Machine kicked into gear and pegged back the deficit, scoring the match-winning try to Hayden Marfell in the last moments of the match.
Winger Regan Marshall, Kurt Schollum, who alternated between number eight and lock, plus replacement loosie Rusiate Sukuru were standouts for Renwick in a stop-start encounter.
Loosies Vernon Fredericks, Baxter Wilson and Mike Curry were outstanding in a clinical first half display from the home side, along with lock Matt McCormick. Ben Finau and Junior Filipo impressed out wide in a side that will be stung by their reversal ahead of their crunch match with Waitohi at the same venue on Monday.
In the third match of the evening, Waitohi repelled a strong challenge from East Coast in Seddon to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. The home side trailed 8-5 at halftime and although they scored a second try in the final 40, a penalty and converted try saw the Tohis claim a hard-fought 18-10 victory.
Central 45 (Dusty Foley, Robbie Malneek, Jesse MacDonald, Braden Stewart, Josh Harrison, Reyne Volavola, Mitch Smith tries, Ra Tamati 2 con, Smith 2 con) Harlequins 20 (Matt Biggar, Ula Fotu tries, Hugo Halanukunuku 2 pen, 2 con). HT: 19-13 Central
Renwick 19 (Hayden Marfell, Pecili Denicaucau, Glen Ballam tries, Kurt Schollum 2 con) Moutere 15 (Jacques Taylor, Mike Curry tries, Jordan Newman pen, con). HT: 15-0 Moutere
Waitohi 18 (Taraiasi Wara, Blair Timms tries, Corey Bovey con, 2 pen) East Coast 10 (Brogan Matthews, Nick Pope tries). HT: 8-5 Waitohi
Standings in the Marlborough sub-union competition: Waitohi 18, Moutere 15, Renwick 14, Central 5, East Coast 5, Harlequins 0.