Scorpions dedicate win to Pike River miner
The South Island Scorpions dedicated their victory over archrivals Auckland to a late team-mate – Pike River miner Blair Sims.
Sims' father Trevor addressed the team in Greymouth yesterday morning just hours before they went out on to Wingham Park and stung the Auckland Pride 30-20 to grab a share of the national premiership lead.
"Trevor said how much it all meant to Blair playing with the boys for the South Island team," Scorpions coach Brent Stuart said. "It was quite a touching time really.
"We used the `Simsy' call whenever we got under a bit of pressure. We'd just like to dedicate the victory to Blair because he did mean a lot to the boys on the team."
Sims was a centre in the South Island team last year and almost certainly would have been playing at Wingham Park yesterday but for the fatal Pike River mine explosion last November.
The Scorpions also drew inspiration from watching television in their rooms at a Greymouth holiday park as the Warriors beat the Storm to go through to the NRL grand final.Auckland were unbeaten in the Albert Baskerville Shield campaign until they were vanquished in the freezing cold rain at Greymouth – never a favourite destination for Queen City rugby league teams.
The Scorpions now join Auckland and the Counties-Manukau Vipers on top of the table with one defeat each from four matches.
Stuart said the South Island squad's destiny was now in their own hands. "We've got two games to go and we pretty much need to win both of them. If we can do that we've got a good chance of getting up to play in the grand final in three weeks' time.
"But we can't look too far ahead. We'll just take this win, get our injuries right during the week, and get back into it again next week against Mid-Central in Waitara.
Auckland and Counties-Manukau meet in the next round with the loser likely to drop out of the top two – provided the Scorpions prevail in Taranaki.
West Coast-born hooker Manu Weepu scored twice for the South Island yesterday with centre Bruce Havea, second rower James Baxendale and prop Alex Todd also touching down.
Baxendale also kicked five goals on the ground graced by his father, Ray, a former West Coast and Canter-bury forward and ex-Kiwis international.
Stuart felt the Scorpions adapted better to the wet, cold conditions than the Aucklanders and they held a 12-10 lead at halftime.
Kyle Leka – back in his more familiar backrow starting role – led the way with another outstanding display in the pack, alongside Jaye Pukepuke, Baxendale and Weepu.
Interchange forward Lance McEwen, the sole West Coaster in the Scorpions squad, turned in another "mistake-free game", Stuart said.
South Island Scorpions 30 (Manu Weepu 2, Bruce Havea, James Baxendale, Alex Todd tries; Baxendale 5 goals) Auckland Pride 20 (Kurt Te Hira, Aaron Booth, Soape Kavliku, Suaia Matagi tries; Te Hira 2 goals). HT: 12-10.
- © Fairfax NZ News