Shirley's desire breaks streak
Shirley stole the Hawkins division one rugby limelight on the weekend with their first success since 2010.
Staring down the barrel of 26 losses on the trot the Shirley side emerged with a 36-24 victory over Sumner at St Leonards. Their victory saw them move from the bottom of the table and overtake Sumner.
At the top the ladder Sydenham, High School Old Boys and Burnside all picked up victories and all but assured themselves a spot in the top six. New Brighton and Marist-Albion were the other winners of the round and they make up the top six with Christchurch.
Shirley 36 Sumner 24
This was more than just your typical run of the mill Saturday afternoon victory for Shirley. Shirley simply desired success more than their opponents. And while over the moon and relieved by the victory Shirley co-coach Richard Jack said:
"Obviously to finally get a win is a pretty special feeling for us. But we blew a couple of bonus-point chances and we let things get a little sloppy toward the end.
"Hopefully that is the start of it for us now, we have a few games ahead of us which I think we can win, we've put in some big performances against the best teams and now it's our turn to be successful."
Shirley first five-eighth Josh Reeves had a stellar day with the boot slotting all five penalties and three conversions and maintaining his perfect kicking record this season. The match was slightly marred by a scrap with 15 to go in which Shirley centre Meki Magele was shown a red card for doing his best Michael Jennings (New South Wales State of Origin player) impersonation.
Two yellow cards were also issued in the match with Sumner down to 14 men twice. Tom Marshall provided the biggest resistance for the home side, scoring three brilliant tries.
Burnside 36 Lincoln University 11
A refocusing session on Tuesday night hammered home the message for Burnside this week. After being rolled by the previously winless Linwood last week, coach Pete Manson gave his players an ultimatum. Consider the loss a slight hiccup, or build and grow from it. His side chose the latter. "It was make or break for our season really," Manson said. "Our goal is to win the first round, and to do that we needed to improve."
A 20-point performance from fullback Kieran Lindsay set the Burnside platform after a hungry 20 minutes from Lincoln Uni before Burnside asserted their dominance. Prop Fred Burke notched up his 50th match for the club in the victory. Burnside will tackle High School Old Boys this week at Rugby Park in what promises to be a brutal encounter between two teams high on the ladder.
Sydenham 62 Linwood 24
The DCL Shield is back in the Sydenham cabinet, and they have every intention of keeping it. A big scoreline isn't a true reflection of a rugged encounter which saw the table-topping side leading by just three points with 20 minutes to play.
"We kicked into gear that last quarter," Sydenham coach John Sherratt said. "But to Linwood's credit, they really took it to us like we expected they would but in the end I think our fitness might have been the difference."
Johnny McNicholl's five tries were the standout performance from the winning side. After being beaten last week, Sherratt was pleased to get things back on track.
HSOB 23 Christchurch 18
A mentally tougher HSOB side proved too much for a gallant Christchurch at Christchurch Park. With both sides playing a similar style of rugby the score was never going to get too far apart although HSOB did get out to a 18-6 lead. Stephan Van Gruting continued his good run of form for HSOB, picking up two tries in an 18-point haul. His opposite, Brooke Retallick, was just as effective for Christchurch. Martin Swart scored HSOB's third try on the back of a slick backline move which proved the difference between the two sides. Christchurch take on New Brighton next week in what will be an interesting battle with both sides looking to round out the lower end of the top six while HSOB take on Burnside.
New Brighton 30 Belfast 26
The next three weeks are going to be crucial for New Brighton. Coach Steve Crotty said they were guilty of taking their foot off the pedal this week and blowing a 30-12 scoreline. "We played well enough to win the game, but were guilty of backing right off in the last 20-25 minutes," he said.
A standout performance from No 7 Troy Mangan impressed Crotty as did a massive 50-metre plus penalty from first five-eighth Johnny Semple.
"Troy was influential and I thought he really stood up this week."
For Belfast, Fijian lock Naibuka Tavenavo was brilliant, scoring four tries. Christchurch next week for New Brighton is a game they have targeted and know they need to win. Belfast will take on Marist-Albion at Sheldon Park.
Marist-Albion 11 University 3
A big week of working on defence showed in Marist- Albion's fifth victory of the season. University had plenty of strong ball runners and Marist's defence was tested but held, keeping their opponents from scoring any tries.
"We were really good at the set piece and our defence was what won us the game," manager Brent Tyler said. The sole try came from a cross-field kick from Tom Bruce with Chris Crichton there to gather up and beat one defender to score.
Bruce added two penalties to give Marist a comfortable buffer.
Marist are fourth on the overall ladder but University will need a victory against the high flying Sydenham to keep chances of a top-six spot alive.
SCORERS At St Leonards: Shirley 36 (George Akerei, Sione Tuliakiono, Dave Tompkinson tries; Josh Reeves 3 conv, 5 pen) beat Sumner 24 (Theo Commassaris, Tom Marshall 3 tries; Solomona Pariki 2 conv). HT: 16-12. Red card: Meki Magele (Shirley). Yellow cards: Luke Katene (Sumner), Hamish Connell (Sumner). At Christchurch Park: HSOB 23 (Stephan van Gruting 2, Martin Swart tries; van Gruting conv, 2 pen) beat Christchurch 18 (Mark Abbott, Sam Cottam tries; Brad Ineson con, Brooke Retallick 2 pen). HT: 10-3. At South Hagley 3: Marist-Albion 11 (Chris Crichton try; Tom Bruce 2 pen) beat University 3 (Jamie Verran pen). HT: 0-0. Sinbin: Faimalo Magele (Marist-Albion) Gareth Reynolds (University). At Rawhiti Domain: New Brighton 30 (Aaron McCoy, Misi Selave, Ben Murphy, Fraser Alcock tries; John Semple 2 conv, 2 pen) beat Belfast 26 (Nabuka Tavenavo 4 tries; Jordan Carolan-Hyland 3 conv). HT: 20-12. At Burnside Park: Burnside 35 (Kieran Lindsay 2, Jed Brown 2, Phil Gibson tries; Lindsay 5 conv) beat Lincoln University 11 (Jarrod Mongston try; Gregor Hunter 2 pen). HT: 14-6. At Sydenham Park: Sydenham 62 (Johnny McNicholl 5, Jack Umaga, Scott Kelly , Mark Croft, Kris Rodgers tries; Tyler Bleyendaal 3 conv, pen; Tyrone Elkington 4 conv) beat Linwood 24 (James Stokes, Thomas Calladine, Jason Wright tries; Zac Southen 3 conv; pen). HT: 22-20.
Team P W D L B F A Pts
Sydenh. 7 6 0 1 4 265 119 28
HSOB 7 6 0 1 3 198 125 27
Burnside 7 6 0 1 2 198 118 26
Marist-A. 7 5 0 2 4 180 122 24
Brighton 7 4 0 3 4 174 153 20
Chch 7 4 0 3 2 144 140 18
Linc. Uni 7 3 2 2 1 156 155 17
Univ. 7 3 0 4 2 120 147 14
Linwood 7 1 1 5 3 128 238 9
Belfast 7 1 0 6 4 137 209 8
Shirley 7 1 0 6 3 161 244 7
Sumner 7 0 1 6 3 128 219 5
- The Press