Stoke go close to beating Nelson

WAYNE MARTIN AND JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 13:18 04/06/2012

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Rugby

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Same situation, same result.

With Accessman Stoke trailing 28-27 and just two minutes remaining at Neale Park on Saturday, second five-eighth Chad Lowrie caught himself in an agonising state of deja vu when, with a last chance of an upset victory over Galbraith Group Nelson, his angled penalty attempt soared wide of the posts.

A week earlier, Lowrie also had the opportunity to kick the winning goal against Blenheim team Central in their pool A Bayleys Tasman Trophy interprovincial club rugby match at Greenmeadows.

Sadly for the big No12, that kick was also astray.

Nelson held on for their one-point win on Saturday to keep their unbeaten record intact for at least one more week.

But ahead 28-3 after fullback Mitchell Scott had scored his second try just four minutes after the restart, Nelson's supporters sensed game over and five more handy championship points.

They had already scored three converted first-half tries to lock Ben Bradley, Scott and finally to winger Vai Asomua-Goodman as Nelson headed to the break comfortably ahead 21-3.

However, an inspired display of continuity and ball control by Stoke's forwards and a perplexing plague of second-half penalty concessions by Nelson almost turned the game on its head.

After Nelson's backs had executed effectively in the first half on the back of an industrious forward effort, Nelson struggled to get their hands on the ball in the second as Stoke almost stole the game.

Within 15 minutes, tries to first five-eighth Shawn Begg, lively No8 Tevita Koloamatangi, Lowrie and finally to lock Jarrod Aberhart suddenly had Stoke breathing down Nelson's neck with all the momentum having swung decisively their way.

Lowrie's late missed penalty attempt did not end the drama, Stoke's forwards again patiently working the ball deep into Nelson territory where, ironically, Nelson were finally awarded a penalty, Nelson clearing the ball to end the match.

Flanker Shane Grieve and lock James Foster were critical elements in Nelson's robust first-half forward effort, while Nelson's backs looked slick and threatening.

Stoke's forwards, with Koloamatangi, Aberhart and Ray Packer again prominent, upped the tempo in the second half and displayed some remarkable control in a unified pack effort.

Huia 20 Waitohi 19

New World Huia and Waitohi continued the theme of tight contests when a last-minute try secured Huia a 20-19 win over their Blenheim opponents at Sports Park Motueka.

Waitohi were holding grimly to their 19-15 lead with time almost up when Huia launched a 60m counterattack from deep inside their own territory.

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Still 20m away from Waitohi's line, Huia moved the ball right from the ensuing ruck where blindside flanker Sione Motuapa sealed a dramatic win with his successful bid for the corner.

Adding to the drama was the fact that, only moments earlier, Huia had been reduced to 14 men when second five-eighth Tila Mealoi was shown a red card for retaliation after he had been obstructed at a tap penalty attempt.

But one man down, Huia still managed to work the overlap that produced the winning try.

Huia had led 10-8 at halftime following a first-half try to centre Ryan Bolton, countered by a try to Waitohi's impressive No8 Manu Mataele.

Huia winger Feing Fa'anoi added a second for Huia as a further try to Mataele, complemented by two second-half penalty successes to first five-eighth Daniel Hawkins, eventually pushed Waitohi clear at 19-15.

But they could not hold on, Huia following their attacking instincts to steal their late win and cap an entertaining contest in which both teams attempted to move the ball.

Huia were met head on by a strong Waitohi pack in a spirited contest, although with a bye next week, Huia have now lost any chance of topping the pool with only one game remaining.

WOB 34 Central 29

When Rawiri Tamati landed two penalties and a superb field goal within the space of six minutes early in the second half, Central looked on track to beat Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys at Lansdowne park in Blenheim.

They began the half well, playing with the breeze, and had clawed their way to a 19-17 lead at that stage, coming back from 17-10 down at halftime.

However, big Waimea centre James Lowe showed his power and pace to finish a sustained move and give the visitors back the lead and the deal was virtually sealed when the Blues took a quick tap penalty inside their own 22 and Tamati's long pass was intercepted by Waimea wing-first-five Josh Rutledge and he scored, the conversion making it 34-19.

To their credit, Central kept pressing and that pressure was rewarded with an intercept try to midfielder Kiti Ligaliga, converted by No8 Kaleni Taeuli.

Tamati added his fourth penalty and with a couple of minutes to play Central mounted strong pressure, but a botched scrum move ruined a promising situation.

Taeuli had a strong game for Central, particularly in the first half, with flanker Matt Gibson and lock Brian Utumapu both prominent.

First-five Tamati used the breeze well in the second half and his goal kicking was outstanding, while veteran halfback Wayne Young played soundly and marshalled his forwards well.

For Waimea, locks Tevita Cavubati and Riki Hoeata were prominent throughout, with Lowe turning in a man-of-the-match performance at centre, proving a handful for Central's defence whenever he got his hands on the ball.

- The Nelson Mail

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