Heavyweight clash looms for top two

DON WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 12/05/2014

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The first showdown of the Southland-wide division two season now looms with the eagerly awaited clash of the only unbeaten Marist and Collegiate teams at Invercargill on Saturday.

The heavyweights extended their unbeaten sequences to six at the weekend, visitors Marist downing Albion Excelsior 44-17 (six tries to three) and Collegiate dealing to hosts Midlands 25-0.

With five wins from six games, Riverton cemented its third competition position by downing Blues 8-0 in a dour struggle and scoreless second half.

Although hosts Central Star outscored Wrights Bush 22-3, their second half was also scoreless with the visitors improving markedly in the second spell.

Coach Nathan Burgess was happy with Marist's authoritative success but praised Albion Excelsior by saying "they took the game to us with some big men and we had to weather their storm before breaking out."

Burgess identified his back three of wingers Jamie Miller and Dallas Tither and fullback Jessie Gus as "young and improving unsung heroes who complemented outstanding open flanker Michael Douglas."

"It was a physical encounter that suited the big Excelsior players and was a strong workout for us."

Albion Excelsior manager Kim McDowell commented: "We are proud of our boys who stuck well to the task against a good team. Marist got a couple of soft tries but all credit to them. We fell off some tackles."

Former Fijian international and Collegiate coach, big Joe Koroiadi, said his men played well against Midlands, particularly on defence and conceding no points.

"We suffered no injuries and we are looking forward to playing Marist next Saturday," he said.

"We don't know too much about Marist and we will just play the same game we do each week."

Waiau Star coach Jerry Adams was encouraged by his young team's second success of the season, 24-12, over hosts Woodlands.

"They are a young team gaining in confidence and coming together by improving with every game," the Tuatapere mentor observed.

He identified hooker Alex Brown for his fine contribution but the team "stood up as a unit" and was looking forward to meeting neighbours Wrights Bush in round seven.

Woodlands manager Shane Steel offered no excuses, saying the team fell apart slightly at times, but only went down three tries to two, three successful Waiau Star penalties proving costly.

Sporting Pirates-Old Boys player-coach Regan Johns said he "felt for the Balfour Lumsden guys" after the 78-0 walloping they suffered at the hands of the city team.

"We know what it's like to be in that position as we have been there too, in the past."

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Pivot Sean Telfer was a star of his team with a "good all round game."

Riverton associate coach Joel Allen said his team's 8-0 win over determined Blues was hard won.

"Our defence was very good under pressure for a lot of the game when Blues attacked our line. Our forwards were prepared to grind it out and were well supported by the backs in a solid overall team effort."

After being down 22-3 to Central Star at halftime, Wrights Bush improved markedly in the scoreless second half. They launched waves of threatening assaults, only to be denied by a tenacious Central Star which also effectively used expansive ploys to compile a flurry of tries in the second quarter.

Central Star captain Daniel Perry said his men had focused on defence and suspected Wrights Bush would come back strongly after the interval.

"It took us most of the first half to wake up to them wide out but we at least held our own after halftime," Wrights Bush coach Brendan Hamilton said.

Central Pirates/Star 22 (Sam Lavea, Jared Knutsford, Harley McKenzie, Cam Fortune tries; Daniel Perry con) bt Wrights Bush 3 (Logan Nicholson pen) Halftime: Central Star 22-3. Pirates-Old Boys 78 (Ben Keenan 3, Sean Telfer 2, Ben Alsop 2, Dylan Lovett 2, Cody Gavan, Billy Reedy, Rory Jarman tries; Telfer 9 cons) bt Balfour-Lumsden 0. Halftime: Pirates Old Boys 38-0. Riverton 8 (Adam Shaw try; Colin Thompson pen) bt Blues 0. Halftime: Riverton 8-0. Marist 44 (Willie Pera 2, Moea Kiaoala 2, Sam Brierley, Jamie Balloch tries; Jeremy Boyle 4 cons, 2 pens) bt Albion-Excelsior 17 (Adam Duncan, Chris Ponga, Daniel Starns tries; Shannon Robinson con) Halftime: Marist 17-10. Waiau Star 24 (Len Adams 2, Michael McCulloch tries; Simon Van Dam 3 pens) bt Woodlands 12 (Jordan Ashby, Reihana Te Whana tries; Richard Te Raki con) Halftime: Woodlands 12-11 Collegiate 25 (Haden Hegarty 2, Jason McMath tries; McMath 2 cons, 2 pens) bt Midlands 0. Halftime: Collegiate 10-0. 

- The Southland Times

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