Alhambra-Union holds off Kaikorai for much needed victory

Green Island fullback Alex Barnsley tackles University winger Cam Gerlach during their Dunedin...
Green Island fullback Alex Barnsley tackles University winger Cam Gerlach during their Dunedin premier club rugby match at Logan Park on Saturday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Alhambra-Union gained its first win of the season when it beat Kaikorai at Bishopscourt on Saturday afternoon.

Alhambra-Union had been struggling with injury but gained a much needed victory.

University remained unbeaten, as did Taieri, although it could only draw with Harbour at a chilly Watson Park. Dunedin won the other game, beating Zingari-Richmond.

University    38
Green Island    28

The students had the game seemingly sewn up at halftime on the back ground at University Oval.

The home team led 33-6 and was making it look easy against Green Island.

But the lads from the suburbs turned it round in the second half and piled on 22 unanswered points. The game could have gone either way with 10 minutes left but University showed some composure to create an opening and scored a try through replacement winger Hamish Drummond to seal the victory.

University had looked a million dollars at times in the first half with Josh Dickson controlling the lineouts and his brother Sam roaming wide and making some good defensive hits. Halfback Kieran McClea was also industrious and picked up two tries for his efforts.

But Green Island, which had poor ball security in the first half, managed to hold on to the ball better in the second 40 minutes.

It got its big ball runners into the game and University started conceding penalties and lost a bit of composure.

But it did enough to hold on and get its fifth straight win of the competition.

Brett Kingsbury and Lafaele Faamoe worked hard in the loose for Green Island, while Finn Strawbridge was tidy in the Green Island backline.

Alhambra-Union    14
Kaikorai    10

Alhambra-Union pulled away and then managed to hold out the home team at Bishopscourt.

The combined side scored a try reasonably early on through lock Ray Fleury after some drives at the line.

The Alhambra-Union forwards worked hard all day and Highlanders No8 Marino Mikaele-Tu ran hard with the ball in hand. He managed to find some gaps in the Kaikorai defence and got well over the advantage line.

Alhambra-Union led 8-3 at the break and then went further ahead with two Brady Kingan penalties. Ben Miller came on for Kaikorai in the second half and gave his side better direction.

Kaikorai got right back into the game when Jordan McEntee scored a try following a break from Sam Wyber.

Kaikorai sniffed victory but the visiting team did not give in. Replacement Kaikorai forward Riley McDowall gave away a penalty and was yellow carded for foul play, which cost his side.

Kaikorai lost captain Lahie Landels to a blue concussion card and that affected its shape.

Alhambra-Union blindside flanker Connon van Turnhout worked hard and halfback Legin Felix-Hotham was tidy and ran well. Midfield back Tevita Inoke was solid on defence for the winning side.

Harbour    14
Taieri    14

The two sides could not be separated at a windswept Watson Park.

Harbour was the more polished in the first half and led 11-0 at the break, but Taieri came back well and led for a good portion of the second half.

A Logan Allen penalty with just under 10 minutes left tied the game up and neither side could win the match.

Allan had a chance at the death but his penalty attempt from 42m out, and wide out, never looked likely.

The match was dominated by a howling wind sweeping over the ground. It had a big impact on passing and both teams, for reasons best known by them and very few others, persisted in throwing deep in lineouts for a significant period of the match.

Harbour was on top in the first half, big loose forward Sione Misiloi rumbling over midway through the half. Harbour’s forwards drove well and perhaps it should have been more ahead at halftime, as Taieri looked out of sorts.

But the men from the plains come back into the match after the break. Lock Josh Larson scored a try and then the visitors received a penalty try after a foot trip on Taieri winger Marc Rooney, through he was some distance from the tryline. Harbour centre Ewan Brunwell cooled his heels for a spell because of his indiscretion.

Harbour hooker Sekonaia Pole ran well, while Allen impressed at times. Taieri fullback Mitchell Scott looked lively and prop Guy Millar worked hard.

Dunedin    34
Zingari    11

This was touted as a banana-skin game for the Jekyll and Hyde Dunedin side. But through its strong scrum and  startlingly good midfield, it dominated this game and came away with a comfortable five-tries-to-one victory.

Zingari looked good at times but bad handling and numerous turnovers extinguished its chances. Its backs were big on ambition but lacked the skills to execute. Its game breaker in recent weeks, Highlander Tevita Nabura, floundered in the cold and windy conditions. Nothing happened for the first 20 minutes of the first spell apart from Thomas Johnson, from Zingari, and Rory Ward sharing penalties. Dunedin’s best two players, midfielders Solofa Silipa and Jared Fahey in his first prem game for the Sharks, both scored in the second 20 to give Dunedin a 10-point lead at the break. Zingari started the second spell with a vengeance and with another Johnson penalty and a try to lock and captain Tom Rowe crashing over out wide, it had cut the lead to two inside 10 minutes. But Dunedin was not to be denied and when Fahey made yet another break and two nice offloads later replacement halfback Tim Hogan went over untouched for the converted try, that spelled the end of the Zingari comeback. The Dunedin forwards then took control at scrum time and their close-quarter carrying left Zingari gasping. Replacement lock Richard Thompson and big prop Don Brighouse both rumbled over for converted tries to give a comfortable 23-point win.

Besides the two midfielders, loosies Hame Toma and Jamie Mowat were into everything and tightheads Ben Freschini and Brighouse were strong on the carry. For Zingari, Tom Rowe was a weapon at lineout time and Keenan Masina made some nice breaks from broken play. 

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