Teenager outstanding in Pirates-Old Boys win
Teenage Pirates-Old Boys fullback Mike Molloy racked up four tries on Saturday as his team dished out a 68-nil thumping to a struggling Midlands outfit in Southland's premier club rugby competition.
Molloy is in his first season of premier rugby after leaving Southland Boys' High School this year, and Pirates-Old Boys coach Matt Saunders said he had been a welcome addition.
"Why he is good for us is he is a guy that has come through the club. His parents are at the club after most games, with their mates, so they are good club people. It's great for us. They are going to be there for as long as he is in Southland; he's not going to be a one-year wonder. He will play for Southland at some stage without a doubt, too."
Saunders was pleased his team banked the maximum competition points on Saturday but is worried the lack of intensity in the hitout may leave his team a little underdone going into games against stronger opposition like Woodlands, Star and the Eastern-Northern Barbarians in the next three weeks.
The former Stags and Highlanders midfielder said Midlands tried their best but the reality was it was a too easy for his team on Saturday.
Midlands had just 17 players stripped for the game and the fixture was forced into golden oldies scrums within the first quarter with the Winton club struggling for front-rowers.
"It wasn't that enjoyable for too many people," Saunders said,
"It was pretty easy and we didn't actually play that well, to be fair. We dropped a lot of ball and we made a break every second touch of the ball. The support play was reasonable but it was hard to take much from the game.
Saunders paid credit to the effort of the likes of Sam Stewart and Brenton Howden for Midlands, who worked hard all game, and he hoped the club could build and be a force come 2015.
For his team, halfback Jesse Gibb was the standout in what was his last game before he heads overseas.
Pirates-Old Boys had four players backing up from Friday night's Barbarians game against the Highlanders at Rugby Park in Invercargill.
Saunders was able to limit JP Koen, Craig Smith and Bryan Milne's playing time on Saturday but veteran hooker David Hall asked to play on for his club team instead of heading for the sideline.
He played 40 minutes for the Barbarians on Friday night and was set to play another 80 minutes the next day but, in the 79th minute, disaster struck.
Hall picked up a bicep injury that could potentially sideline him for some time.
"It's potentially quite serious without having it confirmed yet," Saunders said.
A try to young prop Cole Williams three minutes from fulltime snatched Woodlands a 30-26 win over Marist at the Les George Oval on Saturday.
Marist gave up a 10-point lead with 10 minutes to play as the defending champions picked up a win that has them almost certain to take part in the playoffs.
Woodlands coach Damien Pine said Marist were probably unlucky not to have picked up the win but what he was most encouraged that they stormed home despite missing several key players.
Hooker Jason Rutledge is sidelined with a calf injury and Willis Halaholo missed Saturday's game because of a hamstring strain.
Jamie Verran did not back up after Friday night's game playing for the Barbarians against the Highlanders and Woodlands lost flanker Alex Taylor to a heavy head knock in the first half.
Taylor has had several concussions during his playing days, which will be a concern for the Stags hopeful.
Lock Jack Falloon was also forced from the field because of injury and the long list of injuries tested Woodlands' depth on Saturday - a test they responded to well.
Marist coach Mark Tinnock said he was disappointed with the result but pleased with several aspects of his team's game.
He said the big point for his team to learn from Saturday was how to close out an 80-minute performance against a quality team like Woodlands.
Tinnock highlighted the effort of makeshift No 7 Bull Matiaha as one of the pleasing aspects and was yet again impressed with fullback Curtis Tarrant, who produced a good try.
Keanu Kahukura and Scott Eade backed up from playing the night before and had strong games.
Star took a big stride towards a playoff spot with a 41-33 win over what seems to be an improving Blues outfit.
Star raced out to a 17-nil lead early in the game before Blues fought back to trail just 17-12 at halftime.
Again another poor 10-minute period cost Blues as they let in a further 19 points early in the second half.
Blues mounted another fightback and looked likely to pull off a win when they trailed just 36-33 but Star delivered the final blow to claim the 41-33 victory, scoring six tries to five.
The win may have come at a cost for Star, with wing Lolohea Loco injuring his calf, which will probably mean he will miss some games.
Lock Bubba Lau'ese was again one of Star's best, and fullback Junior Ngaluafe was also good.
For Blues, fullback Waka Parkinson was a standout and flanker Lee Murray got through plenty of work. Hooker Faimola Magele continues to impress in his first season playing in Southland.
The Eastern-Northern Barbarians were comfortable 68-7 victors over division one team Ohai-Nightcaps in the cross-over match.
Woodlands 30 (Dan Hurley, Richard Apanui, Cole Williams tries; Apanui 3 pen, 3 con), Marist 26 (Keanu Kahukura 2, Will Murray, Curtis Tarrant tries; Scott Eade 3 con).
Star 41 (Brad Whyte 2, Hayden Edgely 2, Lolohea Loco 2 tries; Hayden Pope 2, Matt Escott 2 con; Pope pen), Blues 33 (Michael Peterson, Faimalo Magele, Connor Bissett, Korey Penicott, Pehi Te Whare tries; Bissett 4 con).
Pirates-Old Boys 68, Midlands 0.
The Southland Times