Waimea Old Boys and Wanderers to meet in Tasman Trophy final
Waimea Old Boys and Wanderers must now wait another two weeks until this year's Tasman Trophy club rugby title is decided.
Both clubs have clearly emerged as the two top sides in this year's series after each putting 60 points on their respective Marlborough opposition at the weekend. Top-ranked Star and Garter Waimea finished their campaign unbeaten following Friday's 60-23 win over Central at Trafalgar Park while Taylor's Contracting Wanderers also overwhelmed Harlequins 60-20 at Brightwater on Saturday to confirm second place.
However, it won't be until their scheduled second round clash in the Nelson Bays sub-union competition on June 13 that this season's Tasman Trophy champion will be determined.
Their convincing final round wins complemented another successful weekend for the Nelson-based clubs, with Freeman Roofing Stoke comfortably beating Moutere 39-15 at Greenmeadows, Galbraith Group Nelson beating Waitohi 30-10 at Neale Park and Wakatu Hotel Marist predictably outclassing bottom-placed Renwick 83-13 at the Renwick Domain.
Wanderers had too much fire-power for Harlequins to eventually run in eight tries after leading 25-5 at halftime. Lock Ben Douglas showed an admirable sense of timing to emerge with two first half tries while Jesse Pitman also highlighted the value of his return from overseas with two tries in a classy individual display.
Both teams were below full starting strength, although Wanderers' superior resources proved critical despite a resilient effort by the under-manned Harlequins.
The visitors were well beaten but still showed enough character to score two late tries through wingers Richie Tau'alupe and Ula Fotu after Wanderers had eased to a comprehensive 53-8 second half lead. Wanderers inevitably had the final say though when midfielder Pitman dived in at the corner in the final minute to seal a commanding performance.
Pitman's pace and poise were clearly evident, as was the dynamic attacking presence of No 8 Tone Ng Shiu who consistently shredded Harlequins' defences in a superb first half performance.
Wanderers' new South African first five-eighth Morne Van de Berg also marked his debut for the club with a 20-point haul from the boot as his long and accurate passing also helped create space out wide.
Winger Liam King and Douglas contributed Wanderers' three first half tries with left winger Willie Tau'alupe scoring for Harlequins to at least provide some early consolation.
An early 50m intercept try to winger Riley Johnson set the tone for Wanderers' second half spree as Pitman, flanker Steve Soper, substitute midfielder Trael Joass - with his first touch of the ball - and finally Pitman again completed an enterprising performance.
Stoke 39 Moutere 15
Stoke produced another quality performance to stun Moutere with a five-try victory at Greenmeadows.
Moutere's anticipated forward threat never eventuated as Stoke established an early dominance, despite the two sides heading to the break locked at 10-10.
For all their endeavour, Stoke struggled to translate their efforts into points with only centre Kerehama Barrett's penetrative running providing any real returns. Barrett scored Stoke's sole first half try and was a constant threat as his power and pace continued to punch holes in Moutere's defence.
A try to halfback Ben Finau at least helped Moutere achieve parity on the scoreboard by halftime. But the second half was a different matter as further tries to winger Nathan Dempster, first five-eighth Tauia MacDonald, halfback Liam Walker and lock Will Carrick-Smith accentuated Stoke's confident approach and improved execution.
Props Kendall Hodson and Vili Inisi exemplified Stoke's dogged efforts up front. Flanker Steve Kerr effected numerous turnovers and Carrick-Smith and No 8 Jamaica Hume each carried strongly as Stoke's forwards never allowed the normally efficient Moutere pack to establish a foothold. Hooker Caleb Avery, lock Simon Merah and flanker Baxter Wilson still produced tireless efforts in a pressured Moutere pack.
MacDonald consistently attacked the line to allow Barrett to dominate further out, while Moutere winger Junior Filipo and fullback Johnny Ika impressed with limited opportunities.
Nelson 30 Waitohi 10
Nelson took toll of an injury-depleted Waitohi team to secure a rare bonus point win at Neale Park.
Although struggling for numbers, Waitohi's staunch first half defence continued to deny Nelson as the home team tried desperately to capitalise on their increasing dominance. It meant the two sides headed to the break locked at 10-10, fullback TC Campbell having scored Nelson's only first half try and centre Kayde Fisher scoring for Waitohi.
Nelson were under early scrum pressure, which eased significantly with the second half arrival of tighthead prop Christian Tupuola. And initially strong on the ball, Waitohi also began to fade as the match wore on, giving Nelson more latitiude to employ their expansive game plan.
First five-eighth Robbie Malneek was central to its implementation, not only kicking intelligently but also putting players into space with his lengthy passing. Campbell and winger Jake Moore, also a second half try-scorer, enjoyed the added freedom, with Nelson's accurate defence ensuring Waitohi remained scoreless after the break. Prop Inoke Latu scored Nelson's other try.
Midfielder Chris Kerslake was solid defensively and promoted flanker Isaac Misinale also had a strong game.
Waitohi lost their hooker Jacques Taylor early to a head injury, forcing wingers Bobby Motuliki and Palu Fihaki to take turns in the front row. It affected Waitohi's strike power out wide, although Tom Looms, Jack Evans and Mark Hodren continued to work hard up front.
Marist 83 Renwick 13
Anyone turning up at Renwick Domain for the last few minutes of Saturday's match might have been forgiven for thinking the home team was in ascendancy.
A try to replacement prop Anaru Norton from a rolling maul, which included almost the entire Renwick team, sparked the biggest crowd reaction of the afternoon.
Unfortunately for those assembled for the Renwick club's centenary, there was the small matter of 83 points a well-drilled, pacey Marist side had piled on in the preceding 79 minutes.
Impressive lock Shannon Frizzel scored their first try in the third minute and Marist added another four before the break to lead 31-8. Halfback Shawn Begg drove his side around the field with astute kicks and changes of direction. He had willing runners in loose forwards Dan Hytongue and Kisina Neiufi, Frizzel and fellow lock Tyler McKinnon-Stevenson who cleaned out well at the breakdowns.
Renwick had their first half moments with a 50m break from midfielder Kyle Marfell helping to set up a try for No 8 Phil Sterling.
Any hopes Renwick had of a second half revivial were soon extinguished as Marist began a try procession that produced 52 points in 40 minutes. Centre Lote Saulekaleka scored four of them with the other nine shared around his eager team mates who ran hard, backed up and busted tackles at will. Fullback Latham Jones, first five-eighth Seta Sauira and winger Cleve Barrell stood out as the gaps opened up.