Comfortable win gives Harbour top spot

Taieri centre Matt Whaanga slips away from Green Island defenders Jesse Va'afusuaga and Finn...
Taieri centre Matt Whaanga slips away from Green Island defenders Jesse Va'afusuaga and Finn Strawbridge, while in support is Taine Ranga at Miller Park on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
There is a new competition leader.

Harbour has gone to the top of the standings following a comfortable 50-7 victory against Alhambra-Union at Watson Park.

Taieri improved to fifth with a tense 28-27 win against Green Island at Miller Park.

University finally played some decent rugby and beat Zingari-Richmond 44-17 at Montecillo, while Dunedin will be doing some soul-searching this week.

The Sharks were thumped 71-31 by Kaikorai at Kettle Park. It was an ugly blowout which has left the club in the bottom half of the standings.

Kaikorai 71 Dunedin 31

Dunedin scored 17 points in the first 15 minutes against all predictions and looked to be in the game at Kettle Park.

It then tried to defuse the Kaikorai forward power by pulling down a couple of rolling mauls close to the line, lost lock Daniel Hogan for an inordinately long period and the game disappeared into the ether.

By 20 minutes into the second spell, Kaikorai had scored 40 unanswered points and Dunedin was history and consigned to the bottom four.

Kaikorai had complete dominance at scrum time.

Highlanders lock Jack Whetton stole at least five of the Sharks' lineouts. In the last 60 minutes the home team hardly saw the ball - the gaps had to come and they duly did.

Kaikorai No8 Patrick McCurran, and backs Ben Miller and TJ Ane must have been wearing purple shorts, as they were hardly ever tackled and scored nine tries between them. Miller also kicked eight conversions for a 31-point haul.

Dunedin had no answer to the power and precision of the free-flowing passing game of Kaikorai with innumerable off loads and the power running of McCurran, Ane and Whetton.

Dunedin resembled traffic officers at times as they waved them through.

For Dunedin, No8 Jamie Mowat never gave up. Halfback Devon Oliver-Bell and winger Oscar Schmidt-Uili showed glimpses of their precocious talent.

Taieri 28 Green Island 27

Heartbreak for Green Island. Elation for Taieri.

The Battle of the Saddle was actually a decent match for a change. They have tended to be one-sided affairs in recent times.

But Green Island is a much tougher opponent this season and Taieri showed it will be a force, as well.

Easily the game of the round, the outcome hung in the balance right up until Eels loose forward Nick Henderson hoofed the ball into touch deep into injury time.

Fullback Josh Casey had
slotted a penalty five minutes earlier to give his side a 28-27 lead and the score stayed that way.

The Eels played their best rugby in the opening minutes. They looked more organised out wide and lineout drives were working marvellously well.

They nabbed two tries that way and led 22-10. But all that momentum dissolved following one big shove by Green
Island.

The home team pushed Taieri off its scrum ball and dominated the forward exchanges thereafter. Otago No8 Dylan Nel muscled over for the second of his two tries to cut the gap to 22-17.

Replacement prop Sef Fa'agase pushed his way over to snatch the lead early in the second half.

Taieri pulled ahead with two penalties to one but had to endure a late rally. Green Island got the ball back with little time left and basically the entire field ahead of them.

After five minutes and many rucks, Henderson scooped up a fumble and booted it out. Job done.

University 44 Zingari-Richmond 17

No more dropsies this week.

Assistant coach Roy Hawker is back from a business trip and the University backline was back in business.

The students ran in eight tries in a 44-17 win against Zingari-Richmond.

The Colours scored three of their own and arguably they were some of the best in the game. But home team was unable to match the pace and width with which University played.

Its loose forward trio of Sam Dickson, Jack McHugh and Highlander Dillon Hunt dominated the breakdown.

Hunt was on the ground one minute and then out in the backline the next. He covers a freakish amount of the ground and makes a million tackles each game.

But lock Josh Hill was the standout. He took care of the basics at lineout time and ranged around the paddock. Second five-eighth Thomas Umaga-Jensen looked good in the midfield.

Neither side had the kicking boots on. Just three conversions were landed from 11 attempts. A lot of them were from out wide, though.

University shared the title with Harbour last year but has got off to a slow start. It was beaten 30-15 in the opening round by Southern and lost the following weekend to Kaikorai.

That was a clumsy display, particularly out wide. But it had a bye last week and appears to have used the time wisely.

Harbour 50 Alhambra-Union 7

A strong performance from Harbour's big forward pack laid the foundation for an eight-try to one victory and promotion to the top of the competition standings.

From the kick-off Harbour dominated territory and proceedings up front, capitalising on a nervous start from Alhambra-Union at the set piece.

Then, following a number of bruising tackles put in by Alhambra-Union defenders, Harbour scored the first of its eight tries through prop Saula Mau.

A New Zealand schoolboy representative last year, Mau proved a tower of strength in the Harbour tight five, and along with Highlander Ray Nuia kept the acid on the Alhambra-Union defenders with a barrage of line-breaks.

Fellow front-rower Abraham Pole and locks Charles Elton and Isaiah Mapusua also featured prominently in laying a solid platform for the backs to show their individual talents. A benefactor was second-five-eighth Hemaua Samasoni, who scored a brace.

His second try resulted from a line-break by Nuia, who drew in Alhambra-Union defenders before off-loading to Samasoni running up in support.

Samasoni threatened each time he received the ball, and his ability to create space proved a try-scoring windfall for players outside him, notably Mone Palu, Jinho Mun and Latu Simu.

For Alhambra-Union hooker Alex Frood and prop Richard Latu worked tirelessly in the heat of battle, as did blindside flanker and Highlander Marino Mikaele-Tu'u in his first club start for the season.

 - ODT rugby writers 

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