Results go with form in expanded 12-team competition

Star midfielder Joe Gillies makes a break in Star's 70-5 win over Riversdale in the opening round...
Star midfielder Joe Gillies makes a break in Star's 70-5 win over Riversdale in the opening round of the Southland premier club rugby competition on Saturday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The new-look Southland premier club rugby competition began on Saturday in scorching hot conditions.

The six results all went the way of the favourites, as last season's six premier grade teams beat the promoted six teams on their home grounds.

The games were keenly contested and all clubs were positive about the season ahead.

The Eastern Northern Barbarians scored some nice tries in a 35-3 win over Midlands, in Winton. Barbarians coach Mark Hourston was pleased with the result.

"It was good to start with a win, and to only concede a penalty goal in the process. We started and finished the game well. We just made a few too many handling errors through middle period and Midlands stuck in there," he said.

Caleb Young was strong at centre, scoring a try and converting all five of his team's tries.

Woodlands had a hard-fought 12-7 win at Edendale. Edendale displayed plenty of grit in the scoreless second half. Woodlands coach Derek Manson was relieved to get the season under way with a win, but knows his team has a lot to work on.

Woodlands made chances but could not capitalise as Edendale hung on.

Openside flanker Mathew Low was Edendale's best while Bram Fodie, Devon McLeod and Vaughan Webber all impressed in the backline.

Marist earned a 42-13 win in Te Anau. Te Anau coach Dale Wairau was proud of his side's effort.

"It was a historical game for us in the top grade. Our forwards fronted up with a solid set piece and laid a really good platform. We had four debutants who did the club proud and there's a real excitement within the team and our local supporters," he said.

Blues beat last year's division one champion Wyndham 43-12. Blues coach Simon Frisby said it was a really good hit out in cricket conditions.

Wyndham contested the breakdown well, and at times better than Blues, but Blues' speed out wide was the difference.

Wyndham coach Casey Robertson said her boys went very well.

"It was a big step up, with the overall speed and size of the Blues team. We let in a couple of easy tries with poor defence in close, but we can tidy that up. The whole team stuck at it for the full 80, which wasn't easy in the conditions," she said.

Pirates Old Boys won 57-0 in Waikaka. Waikaka coach Peter McRae said it was too hot and too early in the year for rugby.

"We were light on numbers to begin with, and then we had four guys carted off to hospital with injuries, so it is not a good start for us.

"We matched them up front, but they were too classy out wide," he said.

Star beat Riversdale 70-5 in extreme heat at Riversdale. The Star backline scored some slick tries as it raced out to a 47-5 lead at halftime. Riversdale showed plenty of resolve in the third quarter but Star finished the match strongly.

Star's hardworking forwards Jordan Stewart, Ryan Sharp and Brayden Mitchell carried the ball powerfully and defended equally well. Jo Gillies and Keiran Duthie were strong in the midfield, while Kaleb Talamahina, Joel Findlay and Junior Lafoga were dangerous out wide.

Hayden Edgley got though a lot of work and scored four tries. Talamahina had a perfect day off the kicking tee, nailing 10 from 10.

Riversdale coach Philip Blatch said Star was better organised, and a bit bigger and faster. Riversdale's best was veteran first five-eighth Willy Tree, while new recruits Lewis Gravatt, at openside flanker, and Dave Childs, at lock, also had great games.

 - John Langford 

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