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Alhambra-Union lock Levi Turoa scored twice in the final five minutes to help snatch a 30-28 win against University at the University of Otago Oval on Saturday.
The game looked like it had slipped away for the visiting team when impressive young University loose forward Sean Withy burst from the back of a 5m scrum and crashed over with just a few minutes remaining.
The scoring had been back and forth in the second spell and Withy’s try may have proven the decider.
But Alhambra-Union winger Isaac Milne carved his way up field, leaving several defenders in his wake.
The forwards did the rest. They barged their way towards the line before Turoa pounced.
He scooped it up and barrelled over from close range.
It was basically a repeat dose of the try he had scored only five minutes earlier.
Aside from the two tries, Turoa had a strong game. He nabbed a nice lineout steal early on which led to a penalty goal for his side.
And he just brought plenty of energy.
University led 14-6 at the break despite spending a good portion of the opening 40 minutes defending.
Hooker Ricky Jackson was dynamic for the Bookworms. He set up a couple of tries and score one from a lineout drive.
Giovanni Leituala was solid in the midfield, while Alhambra-Union hooker Alex Fraito scored a try, kicked two penalties and two conversions and must get a special mention.
Kaikorai 27 Green Island 19
Tries in the opening minute of each half set Kaikorai up for victory in the top-of-the-table clash at Bishopscourt, and secure its place in the final for the Speight’s Jug.
It will take on Green Island in the final in the next round.
Green Island and University finished even on 15 points in the Speight’s Jug round but Green Island goes through as it has the better points differential. The final is on June 26 at Miller Park.
Quick ball from a scrum soon after kickoff enabled midfielder George Thomas to catch the Green Island defence drifting too wide and blasted his way upfield in a 40m run before off-loading to full back Matt Jones for the try.
Jones remained a constant threat with his ability to cut loose in support play and cause mayhem for the Green Island back three.
With both sides prepared to play a fast-paced open brand of rugby, constant infringing with no fewer than 34 penalties marred what was still an entertaining match for the large crowd.
Kaikorai headed into the break with a 13-12 lead after Green Island clawed its way back into the match through its forward pack, scoring twice through Dylan Nel and Jake Fowler.
Speed down the left touch by Ngane Punivai caught Green Island napping following the restart after the break.
Punivai featured again when he split the defence for Slade McDowall to gather in the pass to score wide out.
The game then ebbed and flowed as both sides cancelled each other out in endeavors to cut loose. Only a try to Green Island openside flanker Heath MacEwan in the final minute troubling the scoreboard attendants from a 30-minute state of inactivity.
Southern 50 Zingari-Richmond 17
Southern showed it will be a serious contender when the Gallaway Trophy kicks off next week.
It strolled to an easy 50-17 win over Zingari-Richmond at Bathgate Park, after leading 33-5 at the break.
Southern sprinted out of the gates and was too slick and polished for a colours side which went missing on defence.
Fullback Josh Buchan ran hard and beat the first man while winger Timoci Tawatawanawai was a handful. He has come down from Tasman and is in the Highlanders squad on a temporary contract.
He had speed off the mark and was a hard man to drag down. The platform for the side was set up front with front rowers Reita Tofaeono and Michael Mata’afa working hard and young lock Harry Taylor getting through plenty of work.
Halfback Graham Urquhart was strong and made some nice runs.
There were numerous turnovers at the breakdown, leading to a lack of continuity in the game.
Centre Willie Time ran a nice angle to score a try for Zingari-Richmond while up front Ciaran Jansen and Bailey Matoe kept working. Nehe Milner-Skudder played at first five-eighth although it was a tough game for him after the death of his great uncle, former All Black George Skudder.
Dunedin 37 Harbour 35
This game was of a very high standard although some of the backline defence was questionable. There were some sparkling tries scored and it went down to the wire.
It took a sideline conversion into a strong breeze from Dunedin fullback Josh Moorby with two minutes left to send the game the Sharks’ way.
Dunedin was the better side early as its phase play was strong. It was no surprise when hooker Sam Rainger dotted down from a lineout drive.
Harbour bounced back and put real pressure on the Dunedin defence. Halfback Nathan Hastie opened Dunedin up to level the scores from a scrum.
Dunedin then the had its best period. Its backline, with Moorby to the fore, put the side out to 21 points.
Moorby ran on to a Tom Henderson pass and cruised away. Then Moorby found a hole to put away newcomer and winger Sione Vea, who looks a rare talent.
Harbour again came back and was awarded a penalty try. No 8 Hame Toma went to the bin for the transgression and the lead to Dunedin was back to 24-14 at the break.
Harbour showed some razzle dazzle in the second spell and scored two long-range tries to hooker Bruce Kauika Petersen, who showed some real pace, and winger Viliami Fine. No8 Sione Misiloi then crashed over from a scrum and the game looked done.
But Dunedin had stayed in touch through a couple of penalties and, heading into the last five minutes, was down by five.
The home team stormed back on to attack and and Harbour cracked. Prop Saula Ma’u threw some punches at his opposite and in the same movement Harbour gave up a professional foul.
With two minutes to go it was down to 13 men. Dunedin went to the lineout and the following drive produced a try to replacement flanker Tom Hume. Moorby’s heroics confirmed the result.
Moorby was Dunedin’s best and Vea the winger looks promising. Flanker Angus Duckett never took a backward step and lock Fabian Holland continued the promise he has been showing.
For Harbour lock Levi Uluakiahola was industrious and Teariki Ben-Nicholas was good in the loose.
Halfback Nathan Hastie was a commanding presence.
- ODT rugby writers