Some do the right stuff in the white stuff as big gap appears
Southland's division one club rugby competition points table has been split clearly in half after the seventh round. The top seven teams have put a 13-point break on the bottom six, who all suffered losses again this weekend.
Ohai-Nightcaps were shut out of their match against Waikaka 32-5. The visitors took control from the outset and were up 24-0 after 25 minutes thanks to a dominant forward effort led by No 8 Jono Townsend and prop Sam Bolger.
The freezing sleet was too much for the miners, who looked like they'd sooner be back in their luxurious changing sheds. Only midfielder Ben Hunt enhanced his reputation as a hard man; he managed to inspire his team-mates into a better second half but, as the snow set in, it became apparent Waikaka's lead was too big.
The combined teams' coach paid tribute to Waikaka for their slick skills in the trying conditions. Waikaka's dual try-scorer Regan Gutsell had a fine game on the wing, while loose forward replacement Daniel Peterson made an impact in the final quarter.
Riversdale were too good for their Pioneer visitors, winning 31-7. Riversdale played with the wind at their backs in the first half and built a 31-point lead thanks to an outstanding forward effort. The loose trio of Caine McIntyre, Rob Blatch and Will Orpwood were especially effective. After turning into the elements, the locals defended well against the spirited Pioneer side. Scotty Weller on the wing had another strong game for the Riversdale team, who have now won four of their six matches.
Edendale had home-ground advantage for their 29-11 victory over Waikiwi. The visitors started well with two penalty goals to Adam Ronald, but after 20 minutes Edendale wing Phil Brown scored the first of his four tries. The Magpies led 19-6 at the break.
The two warmest wings in Southland on Saturday afternoon would have probably been Brown and Andrew Mikkleson, who were both heavily involved in the play. Coach Mark Hourston reported his team played well in the trying conditions. Jono McDonald got stuck into a heavy workload in his first start in the run-on team.
Waikiwi manager Alf McPhee said his team took another step in the right direction.
"It was a gritty effort by all; they just need to eliminate the lapses in concentration and the costly errors".
Hooker Kyle McKenzie keeps getting better, and poor little halfback Vaughan McKay did well with some of scrappy ball he was served up. Veteran props Mike Shepherd and Andrew Horton toiled hard.
Tokanui thrived on their heavy track against Drummond Limehills Star. Tokonui scored five tries in their 27-0 victory. After the scoreless first quarter, the locals led 12-0 at halftime in this forward-oriented match.
Mossburn were on the ropes at halftime against Te Anau, trailing 24-0. But as the field conditions deteriorated the locals did well to limit the final score to 38-12.
Te Anau celebrated their reign as northern champions well into the evening. Te Anau wing Jarron Donnelly is playing some of his best rugby this season, which is pleasing the management team as he travels an hour each way to training.
Mossburn matched the visitors in the forwards but lacked depth in the backs. Mossburn prop Hamish Elder worked hard, and lock Matt Clearwater controlled the lineouts.
First-five Matt Little and second-five Cameron Cleland tackled well.
The Bluff and Wyndham game is going to be played next Saturday, while Mataura defaulted their match against the Marist Premiers.
Riversdale 31 (G Wilson, B Sanson, S Sanson, S Weller 2 tries; Weller 3 con), Pioneer 7 (try, con). Tokanui 27 (S Marshall, L Dean, L Hogg, B Deal, C Dean tries; D Webber con), DLS 0. Edendale 29 (P Brown 4, L Muir tries; B Campbell 2 con), Waikiwi 11 (try; A Ronald 2 pen), Waikaka 31 (R Gutsell 2, J Townsend, M Weir, J Tomlins-Rees tries; S Davidson 3 con), Ohai-Nightcaps 5 (J Ratima try). Te Anau 38 (J Van Bohemian 2, H Cole, G Taylor, J Donnelly N Serulele tries; Serulele 4 con), Mossburn 12 (B Duthie, M Adams tries; C Cleland pen, con).
- The Southland Times