Battling teams post first wins
Previously winless Linwood and Belfast gained their first victories of the season while the hitherto unbeaten Sydenham and Burnside both suffered defeat in the latest Hawkins Cup round on Saturday.
High School Old Boys continued their slow improvement as the only team in the top four positions to gain a win. Marist-Albion managed to remain in the top four courtesy of one bonus point in their loss to New Brighton.
Linwood 27 Burnside 19
This was not only the upset of the round but it may be the upset of the season. Locked up at 19-all with just six minutes left things could have gone either way. But a deft piece of thinking from Linwood No 8 Thomas Calladine changed the game. From a penalty 40 metres out Calladine took a quick tap and found Sean Maitland who used his speed to beat a couple of defenders and score. With the conversion unsuccessful, Burnside set about trying to turn the game back in their favour but then conceded a penalty. Linwood first five-eighth Zac Southern made them pay by gaining three more points and taking at least a bonus point off the previously unbeaten side. Maitland scored two tries in the match and Calladine grabbed one. Halfback Mark Swanepoel chipped in with a lively performance for Burnside who struggled to work as a team in the second stanza.
Lincoln University 21 University 10
Nineteen-year-old lock Brad Lake was the major catalyst for his side's determined victory over their perennial foe University, scoring two tries including a 65-metre dash to the line. Still eligible to play in the colts division next year, Lake is being carefully managed by the Lincoln side and has the added advantage of playing next to inspirational captain Dominic Bird. "They are becoming a very strong combination," Lincoln coach John Haggart said. "The fact Brad is only 19 makes him quite an exciting prospect."
Lake's first try came through an initial burst through the University back line before picking up the ball again after two phases and waltzing over from 25m out. His first was good but his second was even better. Lake forced a turnover at a ruck and picked the ball up only to see open spaces so took off and in a foot race with most of the University back line he was too quick and crossed for his double. Lincoln out- muscled their opponents throughout the match and pleased Haggart with some heavy defence in the closing quarter.
Belfast 22 Sumner 8
Don Fisher was only allowing himself half a smile on Saturday. The Belfast coach has had a frustrating opening few weeks to the Hawkins Cup but was pleased to be able to finally go home a winner. Trailing 8-3 at the halftime break, Belfast were rejuvenated by two skilful tries to centre Jordan Carolan-Hyland. Strong across all aspects of the game, especially in the second stanza, Belfast will tackle New Brighton this week, who will be wary of a team on a roll.
For Sumner it's back to the drawing board with just the solitary draw next to their name. They take on Shirley this week, a side who are also yet to win a game this season.
New Brighton 25 Marist- Albion 19
New Brighton finally showed what they are capable of and for their future opposition that might mean danger signs. Placed just outside of the top six on the competition ladder coach Steve Crotty won't be satisfied until they break in and stay there. He did like what he saw on Saturday and was impressed as New Brighton adjusted to everything Marist- Albion threw at them.
"The next three or four weeks are going to be vital for us," he said. Marist gained the one bonus point from the match, a vital result considering the results of the other top of the table sides. They tackle University this week who will be looking regain form after back-to-back defeats.
Aaron McCoy was permitted to play for New Brighton after fronting the Metro judiciary on Saturday morning after a punching incident with Burnside's Andrew Olorenshaw. Another meeting on the issue may be held this week.
Christchurch 28 Shirley 20
John Seque is making this week Christchurch's benchmark. After a narrow escape over Shirley on Saturday, Seque has one eye on their contest with High School Old Boys this week. "That game will be our benchmark; it's going to tell us exactly where we are at," the coach said.
As they search for their first win in over a year, Shirley threw everything at Christchurch in the closing stages and were rewarded with a try with just 10 minutes to play. The difference proved to be the boot of first five-eighth Brooke Retallick who missed only the one kick during the match. Shirley will get their best chance for success this week when they take on the also winless Sumner at St Leonards.
HSOB 26 Sydenham 18
High School Old Boys are hitting their straps at the right time. They ended the unbeaten run of Sydenham who tackled their first game of the season without influential first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal who was called onto the Crusaders bench. Three tries proved to be the difference as last year's finalists ground their way to another success and worked to a joint position on top of the competition table. Tries for the victors came from halfback Kane Finnie, Chris Small and George Williams.
Small's try did cause some concern however with the fullback suffering an ankle injury in the process. Williams was his replacement. Sydenham will square off with Linwood this week, which will be buoyed by their victory over Burnside while Old Boys take on Christchurch.
SCORERS AND STANDINGS
At Linfield Park: Linwood 27 (Sean Maitland 2, Thomas Calladine, Nick Birchfield tries; Zac Southen 2 conv, pen) beat Burnside 19 (Simon Pardakhty try; Kieran Lindsay conv, 4 pen). HT: 7-16.
At Sheldon Park: Belfast 22 (Jordan Carolan-Hyland 2, Naibuka Tavenavo tries; Ryo Morita 2 conv; Vula Tufau pen) beat Sumner 8 (Andre Pakau try; Solomona Paraki pen). HT: 3-8.
At Rugby Park: New Brighton 25 (Fia Meafou, Aaron McCoy, Ben Murphy tries; John Semple 2 conv, 2 pen) beat Marist-Albion 19 (Tom Bruce, Marce Taulango tries; Tom Bruce 3 pen). HT: 13-11.
At Burwood Park: Chch 28 (Pete Valavala, Matt Etheredge, Sam Monaghan tries; Brook Retallick 2 conv, 3 pen) beat Shirley 20 (Brad Manson, Jud Robbins, Matt McLachlan tries; Rob Smith pen; Josh Reeves conv) HT: 11-8.
High School Old Boys 26 (Chris Small, Kane Finnie, George Williams tries; Stephan van Gruting conv, 3 pen) beat Sydenham 18 (Johnny McNicholl, Jack Umaga tries, Tyrone Elkington conv, 2 pen). HT: 13-15.
At Lincoln: Lincoln University 21 (Brad Lake 2 tries; Gregor Hunter conv, 3 pen) beat University 10 (Jamie Verstappen try; Kurt Davies conv; Andy Ireland pen). HT: 11-7.
TEAMS P W D L B F A Pts
Sydenh 6 5 0 1 3 203 95 23
HSOB 6 5 0 1 3 175 107 23
Burnside 6 5 0 1 1 163 107 21
Marist-A 6 4 0 2 4 169 119 20
Lincoln 6 3 2 1 1 145 120 17
Chch 6 4 0 2 1 126 117 17
Brighton 6 3 0 3 3 144 127 15
Univer 6 3 0 3 2 117 136 14
Linwood 6 1 1 4 3 104 176 9
Belfast 6 1 0 5 2 111 179 6
Sumner 6 0 1 5 2 104 183 4
Shirley 6 0 0 6 3 125 220 3
- The Press