Nelson take out Moller Cup with a game in hand after dominant effort against Marist
Nelson have secured the Moller Cup with a game in hand following a comprehensive 39-0 win over Marist at Tahunanui on Friday.
Nelson's bonus point win pushed them an unbeatable five points clear of Waimea Old Boys, with Nelson's second round win over Waimea the clincher heading into Monday's final round of competition.
A powerful forward effort, highlighted by a dominant scrum, set the foundation for Nelson's win, with four of Nelson's five tries coming directly from set phase dominance.
Two of them came from scrum tightheads on Marist's line with Nelson No 8 Isaiah Miller twice unstoppable off the back of an advancing scrum.
Midfielder Chris Kerslake had earlier opened the scoring piggy-backing off a well-exected lineout drive, while winger Kim Bateman's second half try was also the result of Nelson's superior scrum.
Kerslake and Miller each scored twice, although the dual threat of loosies Ethan Blackadder and Shane Grieve was once again at the core of Nelson's effort both on attack and defence. Miller and prop Inoke Latu added plenty of power to the mix.
First five-eighth Willy Havili controlled play cleverly in the wet and windy conditions as Nelson led 19-0 at the break. And despite occasional attacking punch from flanker Te Puoho Stephens and right winger Jamie Spowat, Marist never threatened to break Nelson's firm grip on the match.
WANDERERS 8 STOKE 5
Wanderers held on with 14 men to hand Stoke another frustrating loss and claim four valuable championship points at Brightwater on Thursday.
It could so easily have gone the other way, with Stoke having numerous opportunities on attack. But with hooker Dan McLachlan shown a red card 26 minutes into the first half for a lifting tackle, Wanderers were forced to dig deep defensively and once again deny Stoke an overdue victory.
The match was littered with penalties and weather-related handling errors in wet and slippery conditions, as Stoke in particular wasted a number of genuine opportunities with turnovers near Wanderers' line.
Wanderers still managed to lead 5-0 at the break through a try to left winger Jake Berthelsen, Stoke eventually levelling up midway through the second half when centre Tomas Aoaki raced in at the corner.
It took a handy Jayden Woolley penalty just 10 minutes from time to finally break the 5-5 deadlock, again requiring some staunch Wanderers' defence as Stoke attacked desperately over the dying minutes.
Stoke fullback Sam Chamberlain was a key figure, attacking strongly and kicking cleverly, with fiery No 8 Foti Siaki and prop Tyler Kearns also strong ball carriers.
But for a team renowned for its attacking prowess, it was Wanderers' gritty defence that got them through a tough physical examination as they survived several nerve-wracking periods camped near their own line.
WOB 27 KAHURANGI 15
Two late tries eventually got Waimea Old Boys across the line for a tight 12-point win against Kahurangi at Jubilee Park on Thursday.
Stung by their previous 55-7 loss to Nelson, Kahurangi had defended strongly during the first half to restrict the home team to just three Eli Kneepkens penalties as Kahurangi took a 10-9 lead into the break.
Kahurangi's points came courtesy of a try to fullback Stein Schreiber and through the boot of No 10 Andy Beatson as their forwards also produced a much more cohesive performance.
But with No 10 James Lash and Kneepkens taking control after the break, Waimea managed to cleverly maintain a successful territorial game and keep Kahurangi pinned inside their own half.
Waimea took an early second half lead through a try to winger Mo Tau, Kahurangi responding through a try to loosehead prop Eden Beech to again put them in front 15-14 heading into the final quarter.
Waimea's mounting pressure eventually took it's toll with late tries to hooker Jake McLaughlin and again to Tau providing some much-needed relief.
The return of experienced forwards Ben Coman and Brent McKenzie proved invaluable to Waimea's forward effort as talented young centre Michael Stringer showed some classy touches.
Lock Kane McLeod, promoted halfback Jack Kohler and influential midfielder Kenny Eggers stood out for Kahurangi.
At a glance
Nelson 39 (Chris Kerslake 2, Isaiah Miller 2, Kim Bateman tries, Willy Havili 4 con, 2 pen) Marist 0. HT: 19-0.
Wanderers 8 (Jake Berthelsen try, Jayden Woolley pen) Stoke 5 (Tomas Aoake try) HT: 5-0.
WOB 27 (Mo Tau 2, Jake McLaughlin tries, Eli Kneepkens 4 pen) Kahurangi 15 (Stein Schreiber, Eden Beech tries, Andy Beatson con, pen) HT: 9-10.
Points: Nelson 19, WOB 14, Wanderers 10, Marist 9, Kahurangi 4, Stoke 4.