Coastal finish with last-minute draw
Yellow card blows Spotswood's chances of winGLENN MCLEAN
Coastal's unbeaten run in Taranaki senior A rugby came within a few seconds of ending on Saturday when they needed a last minute penalty goal to draw 18-all with Spotswood United.
In perfect conditions at Yarrow Stadium, Coastal dominated possession and territory in the Cast Iron Services feature match but could not convert their advantage into points.
They could have easily won the game had it not been for a lack of goal kicking accuracy, fullback Steve Barron pushing five shots wide.
In the end he stepped up to slot the penalty, albeit from in front, but the match will be a reminder to the competition leaders that they face a stiff test in the second round if they are going to be champions.
With points halved at the end of the first round, Coastal now only have a slender two-point advantage over Inglewood with Southern now just a point behind in third.
Spotswood United coach Kevin Walden talked about the need for his side to lift their performance heading into the second round and they duly delivered.
While they had to play a lot of the game from inside their half, there was no shortage of commitment and attitude, especially in defence.
Their line speed, especially in midfield, was excellent while they also offered a fair bit on counter attack.
Hooker and captain Matt Goodwin might have given away the last gasp penalty but he led by example all day, urging his players to follow him.
Most did, especially halfback Warwick Lahmert who put in a man of the match performance.
He was excellent on attack and defence, while his quick darts around the fringe of the ruck caught Coastal out on a number of occasions.
The best example of his effectiveness came late in the first half when he demanded the ball from a quick lineout, stretched the defence before setting up wing Seta Tamanivula to score.
"The boys were fired up and ready to play today but I'm not sure what happened at the end, I was at the bottom of the ruck," he said.
"It wasn't good but I was hoping he was going to miss with the kick because he had been off all day. We knew we had that (performance) in us and to get away with a draw, we're quite stoked, but we were so close to having that game at the end, so we're pretty gutted as well."
Lahmert must come into consideration for Taranaki's first Ranfurly Shield defence against King Country, especially if he continues with the form he showed on Saturday.
"I'm pretty happy and Jimmy (Michael) Carr has been helping me out a lot," he said. "My form has definitely improved a lot since I've been up here because I've moved from a 10 role into halfback and there has been a lot of work go into my passing."
Coastal will be disappointed with their lack of accuracy, especially at key times when they had Spotswood back pedalling and scrambling, only to loose the ball.
Elsewhere, Stratford caused an upset when they held Southern to a 26-all draw at Hawera.
Stratford coach Chris Drummond could finally afford a smile after the match after a series of disappointing performances in recent weeks were put behind them.
Behind 21-15 at the break, Stratford made a lot of the play and were rewarded for their work when they went ahead 26-21.
Southern came back near the end through a try to wing Lewis Ormond but the conversion missed, as did a late penalty attempt from Daniel Brooks.
Fullback Daniel Setu-Walker scored a brace of tries while Drummond singled out Scott Davidson and wing Ollie Radich for their performances.
Southern coach Daryl Lilley was naturally disappointed, especially with his side's defence.
Inglewood showed they will be in the playoff race with a convincing 35-17 win over New Plymouth Old Boys at Inglewood. The win gave Inglewood a double for the season over their city rivals.
Up 13-0 at the break, Inglewood continued to pressure Old Boys in the second half to end the match with four tries.
First five-eighth Chris Brown had his radar tuned, knocking over three conversions and three penalties.
Blindside flanker Paul Petrowski was a standout for the home side while lock Germaine Anaha and openside flanker Berny Hall were tireless.
Eltham-Kaponga came within a whisker of beating Clifton on the back of three tries from unwanted Hurricanes midfielder Jayden Hayward.
Eltham-Kaponga coach Brendan Crowley said a couple of soft tries midway through the game cost his side dearly.
Adam Newell played well at No8 after returning from injury while first five-eighth Greg Rowlands was also in good form.
Clifton's best players were Zane Neil and Taylor Jackson. Clifton coach Chris Moller was happy with 65 minutes of his team's play but disappointed to leak so many points after being up 31-13 before hanging on to win 31-27.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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