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In the top-of-the-table clash, the Royals took the game by the scruff of the neck and dominated the early proceedings.
The Royals put the University defence under pressure, forcing goalkeeper Neil Achary into plenty of punched clearances. On a rare University break, Oban Hawkins’ shot hit the post.
But the Royals came right back and Conor Neil’s direct running and pace almost paid dividends for the Royals with his goal-bound effort blocked.
Another Neil run led to the opening goal. His pass to the wing was whipped back in and Raven August’s powerful diving header gave Achary no chance on 25 minutes.
Aidan Barbour-Ryan had the chance to equalise when he ghosted between the defence but steered his shot narrowly wide.
The Royals’ physical edge to the game was disrupting the students’ more fluid style and, late in the first half, they were lucky not to get cautioned.
Ryan Fleming bundled over Sam Murray leaving him bloodied and dazed and then a two-footed lunge from Jared Grove escaped the referee’s ire.
Late in the first half, another Royals’ corner was narrowly headed over the bar by Kaleb DeGroot-Green.
The students equalised with an individual piece of skill from Barbour-Ryan. With his back to goal 25m out, he turned his marker curling his shot past the outstretched hand of Alex Boomer.
The Royals responded immediately when a long throw from Callan Rothmets was powerfully flicked on by the imposing figure of Ollie Petersen over the despairing reach of Archary.
The 2-1 victory gives the Royals a six-point lead at the top of the table with three games left in the second round.
The top three teams make the South Island league.
Green Island closed to within one point of University following a 5-3 win in Wanaka. Joe Carvell and Matt Brazier had it 2-0 up inside 12 minutes.
Brazier was then shown a red card for a late tackle on 21 minutes and Ethan Arratia reduced the deficit for the home side.
But Green Island showed its mettle with three unanswered goals. Cam Anderson bagged a brace, the second an audacious lob from halfway.
Tom Milton also scored from the penalty spot to give his side a 5-1 lead with 15 minutes left.
Wanaka pulled two goals back in the last 10 minutes through Brandon Dickson and Tomas Tinka.
Roslyn-Wakari was too strong for Northern, winning 5-1 at Forrester Park. Roslyn-Wakari took the lead on 23 minutes from a corner as Justin Wiechens rose at the far post.
Northern’s Rory Hibbert scored an own goal from another corner when his attempted clearance went astray. Northern pulled one back on 30 minutes, Hibbert scoring from the penalty spot.
Roslyn restored its two-goal advantage just before the break through Josh Lucas from another set piece and, in the second half, extended its lead when Wiechens toed the ball past the advancing Zane Green in goal with 16 minutes remaining .
Lucas scored from another corner to round out the scoring.
Rhys Quarrell was the star of the show for Mosgiel with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Queenstown.
Rahan Ali scored the opener on 19 minutes and a Graeme Beveridge own goal on 65 minutes completed the scoring.
- Neville Watson