Athies dig deep to hold Blues to 17-17 draw

Excelsior and Athletic Marist could not be separated in the battle of the carpark on Saturday.

Their 17-17 draw was just one of three nail-biting clashes in the Citizens Shield in North Otago club rugby.

They often say there are no winners in a draw but Athies were clearly the happier team as the final whistle blew.

After being pinned deep in their own 22m and forced to defend phase after phase from Blues, they held them out and took valuable points away from the clash.

Earlier, Excelsior dominated the opening 15 minutes but could not crack the Athies’ defence.

That would be become a recurring theme for the match as the home side made untimely mistakes to release the pressure.

Athies were able to flip the script to open the scoring with a beautiful long-range try.

Hateni Tafolo perfectly judged a cross-kick to Saia Fifita in space.

He dashed down field and drew in the fullback to give it back to Tafolo who scored under the sticks.

A few minutes later, seemingly out of nowhere, Tafolo slotted a long-range drop goal to build their lead further.

Blues were finally able to convert their pressure into points as Apenisia Tuiba crashed over.

They were in again just before halftime following some slick passing from Bradley Harewood down the blindside to put fellow frontrower Matt Seuta in the corner.

Josh Phipps added the extras to make it 14-10 at the break.

Athies regained their lead after camping in the Blues 22m.

Fullback Laisa Bacau then stepped through three defenders to cross the white line.

He got a little cute in the in-goal and popped the ball over a Blues defender to Petero Lala to get closer to the posts.

Phipps then added a penalty with 10 minutes remaining to tie the game up.

Tafolo had another great game in the No 10 jersey while the Athies defence was fast and physical all afternoon.

Blues’ scrum was dominant and Jamie Mullan was outstanding at fullback and later on the wing.

Reserve flanker Cullen Johnstone also got through plenty of work after replacing the injured Mat Duff.

Kurow got their first win of the season in dramatic fashion against Old Boys.

With scores tied at 17-all and only a handful of minutes to play, Inoke Fisilau knocked over a penalty for Old Boys to seemingly seal the game.

However, Kurow got their hands on the ball and worked into a position where Tim Larkins scored the game winner.

The 24-20 win gets the Red Devils on the board in 2024 as they look to make a push for the top four in the second half of the competition.

Valley got their third win in a row as they beat Maheno 21-17 in Weston.

After a low-scoring first half in which Valley led 7-0, both teams got into their work in the second 40.

Sam Sturgess scored his third double of the season as Valley walked away with the win over their country rival.