Athies within striking distance of top spot

The Citizens Shield. Photo: Rugby In North Otago
The Citizens Shield. Photo: Rugby In North Otago
Athletic Marist were the big winners of round six in the Citizens Shield in North Otago on Saturday.

They came into the round in third place and the two sides above them on the table, Excelsior and Valley, both lost.

Athies’ 41-15 win against Maheno put them within striking distance of the top spot on the ladder.

Athies came out firing and forged an early 24-0 lead in the first half.

Their second try was a piece of individual brilliance from fullback Laisa Bacau.

He fielded a wonky a kick and stepped through three defenders on his way to the line.

Bacau was in the action again not too long after as he glided through a gap and popped the ball to wing Ratu Epeli Tuiradamu to score.

A try to Maheno just before the half, and two more just after, gave the green machine hope for a comeback.

But a strong finish from Athies with two tries and a second Hateni Tafolo penalty put the result beyond doubt.

A late yellow card for repeated infringement had no effect on the final score.

Norman Dennison was impressive at halfback for Athies, while open side flanker William Knight and prop Adam Richards got through plenty of work up front.

The final 10 minutes of Kurow’s 40-34 win over Excelsior could be described with a single word — chaos.

Blues held a narrow 28-27 lead when Ben Nowell knocked over a penalty to put Kurow in front.

Josh Phipps then replied with a massive penalty almost 50m out on the angle.

Kurow then won the ball off the kickoff and chipped away, getting closer to the line.

Under penalty advantage, Nowell dropped back into the pocket and slotted a drop goal to put Kurow back in front.

With five minutes to go, Phipps decided against clearing from his own 22 and instead spun it wide to Jamie Mullan.

Mullan had a mismatch and gassed his defender on the outside, but he stabbed a kick ahead that rolled into the in-goal.

They later won a penalty which Phipps banged over to lead again.

To add to the drama, Blues knocked it on off the kickoff giving Kurow one last chance.

Eventually they spun it wide and after falling just short, Sam Keno had a snipe from halfback and while he was short, he reached out to score the winner.

It was the second straight week Kurow won with a try as time was up and it handed Blues their first loss of the season.

Out in Weston, Old Boys upset Valley 18-7.

They lead 18-0 at the break thanks to a Tini Feke double.

Valley tried to mount a comeback in the second 40 but could only muster a solitary try to captain Cameron Rowland.