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Game Day - Week 1
SATURDAY 2nd April 2016
SCORES: Lincoln University 46 Christchurch 10; New Brighton 48 Marist Albion 17; Sumner 26 Burnside 8; Linwood 29 Belfast 27; HSOB 16 Sydenham 3; University 22 Shirley 11.
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY SENDS OMINOUS WARNING
Two of the heavyweights, Lincoln University and Christchurch, clashed in the opening round of the metro division one competition for the Hawkins Cup and the verdict was conclusive – a knockout win for Lincoln University.
All six division one matches on Gala Day were played on well-grassed fields at Sheldon Park, home of the Belfast Rugby Club which will celebrate its centennial over Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Lincoln University, which overcame Christchurch in the championship final for the Hawkins Trophy last year, looks formidable as ever as it tries to win the Cup for a fourth successive year.
The coaching triumvirate of John Haggart, Dave Perrin and Ben Blair bore satisfied smiles as new first-five Josh McKay raced away in the last minute to score Lincoln’s sixth try in its 46-10 victory.
Christchurch held its opponent to a seven-point lead in the first half, but coughed up 29 unanswered points in the second spell as the relentless defence kept Christchurch on the back foot. Christchurch attempts to clear the ball only allowsed Lincoln to counter-attack with telling effect.
Perhaps the surprise result was New Brighton’s emphatic win over Marist Albion. When they last met in the top six last season, Marist Albion was a decisive winner and New Brighton fielded an almost completely different backline featuring some young faces.
But the seasiders ran rampant, scoring eight tries, three to left wing Mark Burton, and finishing just two points shy of a half century.
It was not the way wing Chris Crichton and prop Marce Taulango wanted to remember their 150th appearances for the Marist Albion club.
Belfast almost gave their home supporters something to cheer about, scoring two late tries and just failing to overtake Linwood, losing 27-29. The two bonus points earned by Belfast matched their final total after 11 rounds of the Cup last year. They will not be easybeats this season.
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg scored one of University’s try in its win over Shirley. Dagg was off soon after to join the Crusaders in Perth as was Burnside hooker Ged Robinson.
Old Boys’ forward dominance took it to victory over Sydenham in a game which never scaled great heights and Sumner started on a successful note with a comfortable win over a Burnside side which made the early running but failed to stay the distance.
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY v CHRISTCHURCH
At Sheldon Park 1: Lincoln University 46 (Mitch Dunshea, Jordie Barrett, Jack Powell, Anty Burnett, Chris Gawler, Josh McKay tries; Barrett 5 conv, 2 pen) beat Christchurch 10 (Kololo Otutaha try; Cam Bailey conv, pen). HT: 17-10. Referee: Jamie Nutbrown. Sinbins: Nick Werahiko (LU), Angus Middleton (Chch).
From the opening whistle Lincoln University applied the constant pressure that has brought it so many rich rewards in recent seasons.
The Cup champion rattled on 10 points in the first 5min courtesy of a penalty goal to Jordie Barrett who then converted a try by flanker Mitch Dunshea who gathered a charge down of an attempted clearing kick by Christchurch first-five Brad Ineson.
If was important for Christchurch to score next and that it did. Midfielder Inga Finau gathered a botched kick by Barrett and was stopped only by desperate defence on the line but soon after Christchurch lock Chris Mason won a lineout and Christchurch rumbled to the line with prop Kololo Otutaha bursting over it.
An all-in brawl ensued after 27min with Lincoln hooker and co-captain Nick Werahiko sinbinned and 3min later Christchurch had flanker Angus Middleton suffer the same fate after another heated exchange.
Lincoln benefitted most while those players cooled their heels, lock Jono Osbourne claiming an attacking lineout and Barrett crossing all too easily. A late penalty to Christchurch fullback Cam Bailey had his team in the game at half-time, down 17-10.
But Christchurch failed to register a point in the second half as Lincoln stifled any attacks with uncompromising rushed defence, and when Christchurch resorted to kicking for territory it only allowed its opponent to counter-attack which it did with telling effect.
Lincoln scored four tries in the second half, the first after many phases of inter-passing to both touchlines before replacement lock Jack Powell was put into the clear by an in-pass from wing Daniel Henderson.
Christchurch held firm until 14min from full-time when it let in three tries. Replacement Nick Lake played a big part in two of them. He had hardly graced the field when he fielded a kick ahead. He placed his own kick down the touch-line, regathered it, and released an unmarked Anty Burnett.
In the last 4min Lincoln scored twice more, a deserved try to outstanding loosehead prop Chris Gawler after a forward surge then in the last minute when Lake put debutante first-five Josh McKay away on a 60m run.
Gawler was most impressive for 80min, winning turnovers by holding up the maul and making good yardage with burrowing runs. Osbourne and Dunshea impressed with their work-rate. Barrett contributed 21 points and was a menace in midfield while the acceleration of fullback Caleb Makene had Christchurch’s defence working overtime.
Christchurch could not get into the game in the second half, but lock William Mills put his body on the line until the end and seasoned Steve Alfeld, at halfback in the first spell and first-five in the second, was always an attacking threat and a good distributor. Fullback Cam Bailey showed promise with his kicking and in general play.
Hawkins MVP: Chris Gawler (LU) 3, Jordie Barrett (LU) 2, Steve Alfeld (Chch) 1.
NEW BRIGHTON v MARIST ALBION
At Sheldon Park 2: New Brighton 48 (Mark Burton 3, Louis Harmon, Rawiri Karena, Jerry Meafou, Ron Katonivere, Trent Sherlock tries; Robbie Mulvena 2 conv, Burton conv, Sherlock conv) beat Marist Albion 17 (Daniel Fransen 2, Tom Reekie tries; Hagen Schulte conv). HT: 17-7. Referee: Blair Barclay. Sinbin: Mark Burton (New Brighton).
Marist Albion arrived with a wealth of experience in the form of wing Chris Crichton and prop Marce Taulango, both playing their 150th games, and No.8 Faimalo Magele and lock Ross Kennedy both reaching the milestone of 50.
But it mattered little to New Brighton who would have gained immense satisfaction with a comprehensive eight-try, 48-17 victory.
New Brighton lost some of their experience when No.8 Aaron McCoy had to leave the field with a head knock after only 8min. However, the seaside forward pack, ably led by their skipper and flanker Billy Harmon, were a tigerish unit who harried and constantly put pressure on their opposites and were complemented with a sound back unit where wing Mark Burton featured with a hat-trick of tries.
Marist Albion had the benefit of the breeze, but it was New Brighton who were straight on to attack to score their opening try after 8min when first-five Tony Christie ran the short-side from a ruck and found flanker Louis Harman in support on the inside to touch down.
Marist Albion worked their way back into the game and scored a converted try after 20min to take the lead for the only time in the game when fullback Daniel Fransen entered the line to cross. New Brighton replied some 10min later to regain the lead when Burton crossed for his first following a strong run down the touch-line from fullback John Vili and a kick that ricocheted of a defender to their advantage.
They added a further just before the break when prop Rawiri Karena barged over from short range and centre Robbie Mulvena added the conversion after being unsuccessful with his previous four attempts.
Shortly after resuming, the seasiders’ scrum placed immense pressure on the Marist Albion eight and they were successful in securing a push-over try to replacement No.8 Ron Katonivere.
Marist Albion scored a fortuitous try to second-five Tom Reekie after 50min. He was on hand when a clearing kick was charged down and a mix up by the New Brighton defenders presented the opportunity.
Burton was on the end of a passing movement to cross for his second after 55min and 2min later they stretched the lead to 34-12 when a Marist Albion clearing kick went to the far touch-line and a quick throw in resulted in a paucity of defenders for second-five Jerry Meafou to run in the try.
Fransen scored his second and his side’s final try after 70min when he was in support of Reekie who split the defence open with an impressive scything run.
The last 10 min belonged to New Brighton who ran in two converted tries, the first bringing up Burton's hat-trick after Billy Harmon pounced on a loose ball and ran 40m for Burton to finish. Replacement Trent Sherlock crossed on the stroke of time to bring the curtain down on a satisfying performance.
Skipper Harmon led from the front and set the example for his team to follow, lock Ben Nelson was strong at lineout time and mobile around the field. In midfield, Meafou was a strong direct runner and a sound defender. Burton was always looking for work and his three tries just reward but he did blot his copy book by being sinbinned after being involved in a major altercation just before half-time.
Marist Albion will certainly have a number of areas of their game to work on at training this week, but as usual Ross Kennedy was sound in the lineouts. In a pack on the back foot, flanker Charlie Gamble tried to stimulate some go-forward ball, fullback Fransen always looked dangerous when he entered the line and in midfield Reekie impressed as a player of promise with the ability to split the defence with his elusive running.
Hawkins MVP: Billy Harmon (New Brighton) 3, Jerry Meafou (New Brighton) 2, Tom Reekie (Marist Albion) 1.
SUMNER v BURNSIDE
At Sheldon Park 2: Sumner 26 (Nikolas Cumming, Poasa Waqanibau, Reece McCaffrey tries; Cumming conv, 3 pen) beat Burnside 8 (Rowland Kotobalavu try; Mitch Neutze pen). HT: 10-8. Referee: Gareth Reed.
Burnside made the early running in this absorbing match, playing with the wind. But they trailed at half-time and while not exactly being blown away after the break, were soundly beaten by a cohesive Sumner outfit that used the breeze well in the second half.
Two players of Fijian heritage, Poasa Waqanibau (Sumner) and Rowland Kotobalavu (Burnside) showed special talent.
Waqanibau, who played for Wanganui last year and now has a Canterbury contract, scored a stunning try from 60m out 3min into the second half and generally looked the goods.
Kotobalavu, who has played rugby league at under-20 level for St George Illawarra, scored Burnside’s try early in the match, using a spectacular bump-off to open up the line.
In the first half, he made a brilliant take of a high ball under immense pressure and showed he can make crunching tackles as well.
A key figure in the win was Sumner first-five Nikolas Cumming, who was in prime position in the first half to finish a movement sparked superbly by right wing Elias Caven and carried on by the bruising Waqanibau.
Cumming also directed play sweetly, punted astutely both into and with the wind, and kicked well at goal.
Captain Josh Leszczuk helped keep his pack on the front foot on the charge and popped up often to save the day in dangerous situations.
His Burnside counterpart, Ben Dixon, did all he could to keep his side competitive while Pete Samu showed glimpses of his well-recognised ability, notably through a long surge in the first half which might have led to a try if the support had been spot-on.
First-five James Logan looked a good prospect, especially with his probing at the defensive line.
Hawkins MVP: Nikolas Cumming (Sumner) 3, Poasa Waqanibau (Sumner) 2, Rowland Kotobalavu (Burnside) 1.
LINWOOD v BELFAST
At Sheldon Park 1: Linwood 29 (Cameron Black, Sam Limu-Franklin, Pita Anae-Ah Sue, Maia Gibbs tries; Zac Southen 3 conv, pen) beat Belfast 27 (Leon Fukofuka 2, Isei Vuluma, Ulaiasi Lawaavou tries; Will Stevens conv, pen; Kohai Yosihi conv). HT: 10-15. Referee: Kane McBride. Sinbin: Ulaiasi Lawaavou (Belfast).
The sigh of relief from the Linwood coaches was audible when the final whistle went with their team just two points ahead of Belfast, last year’s whipping boys.
This was a game that Belfast could easily have won. It made the better start with influential Crusaders halfback Leon Fukofuka taking a quick tap penalty and crashing across after 4min. After an exchange of penalties, Linwood took a 10-8 lead after 22min when first-five Zac Southen made a break from a scrum on halfway and found support in fullback Cameron Black.
But on the half hour Belfast struck back in bizarre fashion. A penalty attempt from a handy position by Will Stevens swung well away from the left upright and caught Linwood’s defence unawares. The ball bounced kindly for Belfast centre Isei Vuluma whose diligent backing up resulted in a try.
Unfortunately for Belfast, the first 25min of the second half proved costly as it was punished for some silly errors and slack defence. Linwood midfielder Sam Limu-Franklin levelled the score after stepping out of two tackles on a 50m sideline sprint to the line.
Linwood enjoyed a prosperous third quarter as the forwards found new fire and replacement hooker Pita Anae-Ah Sue scored after captain Tepasu Thomas won a lineout 5m out and the drive to the line brought a try for the hooker.
Then halfback Maia Gibbs scored uncontested after 65min to increase the lead to 29-15. In previous seasons that might have led to a Belfast capitulation, but that was not the case this time. The first-half energy and urgency returned.
With 7min to play, the strapping Fukofuka, who was playing in an unnumbered jersey because the No.9 jersey did not fit him, scored his second try from another quickly taken tap penalty. Two minutes from time Belfast closed to 29-27 when lock Ulaiasi Lawaavou launched himself over the line after bursting on to a pass several metres out.
Belfast attacked from the kick-off but a fumble on the 22m line put paid to any fairytale finish.
Thomas and Anae-Ah Sue were at the heart of the Linwood second-half resurgence while openside flanker Jordan had a pleasing all-round game. Southen gave good direction in the pivotal position and the powerful Limu-Franklin made an impact with his direct running.
All the Belfast players deserved credit with captain and No.8 Naibuka Tavenavo a key in the lineouts, but the most impressive was loosehead prop Sione Vea. He did his job in a solid scrum, threw accurately to the lineout, made some bone-jarring tackles and found time to pop up in open play on many occasions.
Fukofuka was the ideal backline general and his leadership brought out the best in his fellow backs.
Hawkins MVP: Sione Vea (Belfast) 3, Sam Limu-Franklin (Linwood) 2, Tepasu Thomas (Linwood) 1.
HSOB v SYDENHAM
At Sheldon Park 3: High School Old Boys 16 (Jarred Percival, Josh Pitt tries; Percival 2 pen) beat Sydenham 3 (Kieran Lindsay pen). HT: 13-0. Referee: Liam Scanlon. Sinbin: Morgan Innes (Sydenham), Harry Peeters (Old Boys).
High School Old Boys superiority in the set piece scrums and lineouts paved the way for a dominant, but not pretty, win over a hard-working Sydenham.
Sydenham failed to capitalise on the chances they created, being frustrated by a resilient Old Boys defence, as well as letting themselves down with silly little errors on attack at crucial times.
Sydenham had the use of a blustery wind in the first half but it was the men in white who dominated.
On attack from the start, Old Boys created chances, but both sides were guilty of early season handling lapses, and it was from one such error that Old Boys No.8 Daryl Lamborn gained a ruck turnover, broke free and offloaded to the waiting first-five Jarred Percival who scampered 40m untouched to score the opening try after 12min.
The Old Boys pack had a clear advantage over Sydenham at every scrum, winning their own ball with ease and putting great pressure on the Sydenham feeds, forcing Sydenham halfback Jordan Stone to clear under pressure and retreating.
It was a somewhat messy first stanza, controlled by Old Boys, particularly at lineout time where Old Boys lock Angus Cameron dominated, and where Old Boys also disrupted Sydenham’s throw in, stealing three against the throw.
Cameron was also a strong presence in the loose as a carrier to contact hit-ups.
Old Boys slim five-point lead was doubled 5min from the break when a decisive maul drive shunted the Sydenham pack back over their line, for blindside flanker Josh Pitt to touch down for a deserved try, given Old Boys’ control.
Sydenham’s scrum was not helped by lock Morgan Innes earning the wrath of referee Liam Scanlon and being despatched to the sin-bin late in the half.
A 40th min Percival penalty goal completed the scoring, but Sydenham were not out of it. Old Boys had used their most potent weapons, the scrum and lineout to good effect.
From the restart, Sydenham played with more purpose and began to make better use of their possession. A breakout led by flanker Matt James, supported by Stone and first-five Kieran Lindsay gained significant ground but was held up. Shortly after Sydenham gained its only points of the match, a Lindsay penalty goal, a small reward for enterprise.
The men in red and blue continued to use the ball better and their backs looked dangerous, given a bit of room to run. But overall, while Sydenham was a much improved side playing into the wind, they lacked the ability to penetrate Old Boys tenacious defence when defending their line, which they were forced to do for extended periods, frustrating Sydenham’s valiant attacks.
Sydenham almost held Old Boys scoreless in the second half, until a 43rd minute Percival penalty gave Old Boys a 16-3 win.
For Old Boys, Angus Cameron was the standout in the pack with Daryl Lamborn a strong runner off the back. Halfback Harry Peeters , a recruit from Lincoln University, gave a strong display running and clearing the ball, blighted only by a spell in the sin-bin for a silly foul.
Percival was solid clearing the ball, and fullback George Bridge showed speed on attack with his limited opportunities.
Sydenham had little to show for all its hard work in a beaten pack, but this did not slow down the impressive No.8 Scott Kelly and the industrious workhorse, lock Kalave Aualiitia, who both led from the front.
In the backs, former Sumner player Amanaki Nicole was very strong on the burst and defence, while the nuggety centre Nick Thomson showed strength and determination without being able to break through. Halfback Stone was a busy distributor under pressure.
In the end a satisfactory if not compelling win for Old Boys in a match that failed to rise to its potential.
Hawkins MVP: Angus Cameron (HSOB) 3, Amanaki Nicole (Sydenham) 2, Harry Peeters (HSOB) 1
UNIVERSITY v SHIRLEY
At Sheldon Park 3: University 22 (Bradley Hemopo, Israel Dagg, Caleb Aperahama, Conor O’Leary tries; Hemopo conv) beat Shirley 11 (Tom Keith try; Nathan Smith 2 pen). HT: 17-8. Referee: Chelsea Gurr.
On paper University recorded a straight-forward, four tries to one, bonus point, win over Shirley, but the reality of the on-field action did not reflect that and the students were made to work very hard to earn this outcome.
The maroons kicked off with the strong easterly wind behind them but didn’t get to touch the ball again for 10min as Shirley delivered a message they weren’t there simply to make up the numbers.
Moving the ball left and right and recycling effectively the light blues tested the students’ defensive lines across the park. Unfortunately, the action was in their own half and when the turnover came from a mistake University pounced spreading the ball to the left for Bradley Hemopo to score in the corner.
Three minutes later, one of Crusaders’ fans favourite sons, Israel Dagg, (in a planned 30-minute cameo role) glided into the line slipping through the defence to dot down. In his time on the park Dagg showed he still has pace, vision and nose for an opportunity. Nathan Smith responded with a penalty goal for Shirley.
By this stage a rhythm based on energy, endeavour, enterprise and enthusiasm with lack of execution at vital moments by both sides became evident. Balls were dropped with the line open, passes knocked on, and turnovers at the contact became a feature, producing excitement for the large crowd as no-one knew what would happen next.
The students crossed again in the 31st min via Caleb Aperahama and Hemopo converted. In first half referee’s time Shirley closed the gap to nine points when assistant referee Steve Lilley, in perfect position, drew to the attention of the referee that Tom Keith had in fact scored during a goal-line melee. The teams went to the break at 17-8.
Normal transmission resumed at the restart with some structured play by both sides falling down at vital times through unforced errors or failure to complete the opportunities created. Two examples sum up the match and the half. In the 48th min Shirley lost the ball over the line in the act of scoring and 10min later, after a counter attack, University spilled the final pass 10m out from an open line.
Smith kicked a second penalty for Shirley to put them within six points. Then the best continuity of the match, a series of recycles, pick and goes and drives by the maroons and a tap penalty saw replacement Conor O’Leary score for the final 22-11 score-line.
In a match-up in which both sides looked to be a game short of where they might want to be, University players to feature were locks Marty Swaffield and Caleb Aperahama who were strong at line out and in the go forward. Courageous halfback Finlay Christie distributed crisply and with vision and tackled non-stop. Second half replacement O’Leary added value to the team’s cohesion.
Shirley kept coming at the opposition until the final whistle. Keith and Hayden Mitchell produced their usual never give a millimetre approach, rookie 19- year-old prop Tawhiri Wharehinga (a colts midfield back last season) gave an eye- catching display of scrummaging power coupled with robust determination taking the ball up. First-five Nathan Smith was an effective link who defended the fringes well and kicked a 40m penalty into the howling easterly.
Hawkins MVP: Marty Swaffield (University) 3, Finlay Christie (University) 2, Nathan Smith (Shirley) 1.
After the game, Perth bound Crusaders replacement Israel Dagg, a personable young man, spoke with Paddy.
He said he no problems with the shoulder he’d had an operation on during the off-season. While he took a few hits he came through well. He had thoroughly enjoyed his time on the park after a long layoff, was grateful to the Vipers for the opportunity and looked forward to playing a few more games for them. It was one small, yet vital, step towards his stated goal of getting back into the top echelon of the sport.
Points as at 2nd April
HAWKINS DIVISION 2 - CUP
Challenge Shield Match – Sydenham Win
Sydenham 20 v. Burnside 11, Suburbs 41 v. Shirley 5, Lyttelton 14 v. HSOB 11, New Brighton 25 v. Lincoln University 0, Sumner 19 v. University 33, Marist Albion 35 v. Belfast 15, Linwood 13 v. Christchurch 18;
HAWKINS COLTS PREMIER - CUP
Challenge Shield Match - Lincoln University Retain
Lincoln University 57 v. Linwood 0, HSOB 7 v. Sydenham 29, New Brighton 10 v. Belfast 7, University 18 v. Shirley 12, Christchurch 21 v. Marist Albion 7, Burnside bye;
HAWKINS DIVISION 3
Challenge Shield Match - Christchurch Retain
Christchurch 33 v. HSOB 15, Otautahi 0 v. Burnside 25, Marist Albion Beacons 36 v. University 5, Suburbs 17 v. Marist Albion 35;
METRO COLTS - CUP
Challenge Shield Match – HSOB Win
HSOB 12 v. Glenmark 3, Christchurch 18 v. Ashley 5, Christchurch BHS v. Marist Albion, no result received, Linwood 14 v. Merivale Papanui 36, Lincoln University v. Sumner, no result received, New Brighton 0 v. University 34, Burnside Bye;
METRO DIVISION 4 - CUP
Challenge Shield Match – New Brighton Win
New Brighton 11 v. Shirley W 10, Lyttelton 14 v. Belfast 11, Marist Albion 106 v. Burnside 0, Shirley 10 v. Suburbs 27;
METRO CLASSICS – CUP
Challenge Shield Holder - TBC
Sydenham S 47 v. Linwood B 12, Sumner S 5 v. Christchurch C 6, HSOB K 31 v. Belfast M 19;
WOMENS - CUP
Challenge Shield Match - University Retain
Burnside 0 v. Christchurch 111, University 55 v. HSOB 10, Suburbs v. Kaiapoi, game deferred, Sydenham 99 v. Marist Albion 0, Lincoln 10 v. Burn/Duns/Irwell 39, Linwood bye;
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