Woodlands make statement with dominant display versus Blues

Woodlands sent an early message with a 61-17 win over Blues in the opening round of the Southland premier club competition.

They scored four tries in the first 15 minutes on home turf on Wednesday night to take immediate control of the game.

Woodlands coach Richard Jones was able to make many personal and positional changes later in the game.

"We have plenty of experienced players mixed in with some good young guys that are keen to learn. We are lucky to have such a strong front row and strong front row reserves."

Three young newcomers to impress for Woodlands were loose forward Justin Shaw, first five Kynan Stowers-Smith and lock Alex Yallop.

Fullback Sione Baker scored three tries and midfielder Tauasosi Tuimavave scored twice.

On Thursday night, defending champions Pirates Old Boys beat the Eastern Northern Barbarians 15-12 in wet and cold conditions at the Gore Showgrounds.

Halfback Josh Murrell scored the first try of the night when the locals fumbled the ball trying to leave their in-goal and he pounced on the loose ball.

Fullback Kaea Nikora-Balloch used his speed to set up the next try for first five Greg Dyer to score out wide.

The Hawks led 12-0 at halftime but the Barbarians dominated territory and possession in the second half.

The Baabaas scored close to the posts after a series of pick-and-goes and again out in the corner to draw level at 12-12.

In the closing minutes, the Hawks got down the field and earned a penalty in front of the posts, which Nikora-Balloch kicked.

Barbarians coach Bretton Taylor said his team missed some scoring opportunities.

"We were held up over the line three times. Our forwards played really well especially in the second half, our ball carries were a lot more direct and that paid dividends."

Prop Morgan Mitchell was impressive, especially at scrum time. Lock Woody Kirkwood and openside Leroy Ferguson were other standouts.

Star beat Marist 44-6 in rough weather conditions at Miller Street on Thursday night.

Star scored a good try soon after kickoff but Marist had a strong wind at their back and dominated field position in the first half.

Marist kicked a couple of penalties but Star scored a converted try just before the break to lead 14-6.

Star coach Brayden Mitchell said the win took a fair bit of doing.

"Marist were well in the fight for most of it but our defence kept them pinned down their end in the second half and it was hard for them to get out. We got a bit of a roll on and scored some good tries."

Hooker Jayden Henderson scored a hat-trick of tries for Star.

By John Langford