Kaikorai shades Green Island in tense encounter

Taieri outside back Mitchell Scott scores despite the best efforts of Alhambra-Union fullback...
Taieri outside back Mitchell Scott scores despite the best efforts of Alhambra-Union fullback Isaac Milne at the North Ground on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Pivot Ben Miller kicked three penalties and a conversion. But it was his one-on-one strip towards the end of the game which characterised Kaikorai's gutsy 23-22 win against Green Island on Saturday.

His side has leapfrogged Green Island into second place.

Harbour took sole ownership of the top spot thanks to a healthy 62-26 win against the struggling Zingari-Richmond.

Southern beat Dunedin 45-24 to snap a four game losing-steak, while Taieri fended off Alhambra-Union 27-24 to move into the top four.

Kaikorai 23 Green Island 22

Kaikorai showed some great desperation to edged Green Island 23-22 in a tense encounter at Bishopscourt.

But it also had the muscle to shove Green Island off its scrum ball as well.

Midway through the second half, Kaikorai won the ball against the feed three times in a row.

Green Island's discipline was not flash either. The visitors lost the abrasive Sean Jansen to the sin bin after 30 minutes for his role in a tip tackle.

No sooner had the lock-cum-loose forward got back on, that yellow probably should have been upgraded to red for another dodgy foul.

Alex Barnsley was not so lucky in the 62nd minute. He got himself offside when Kaikorai were poised to score.

He spent the next 10 on the sideline and Kaikorai got a penalty try.

The home side got in plenty of trouble of its own. It lost a man to the bin as well and every time it conceded a penalty in kicking range, fullback Isaak Te Hiwi knocked it over.

He kept his side in touch and Green Island did show plenty of flair when it was not back-pedalling in the scrum.

Centre Yonhi Kim kept finding holes in the defence. And when he scooped up a loose pass 60m out, he looked as if he would score in the corner.

But halfback Kane Johnston chased hard and got him 5m out. Replacement back Roman Blackman had to make a big tackle deep in the game as well. But it was Ben Miller's strip on Jansen in the dying moments which sucked the life out of Green Island's late charge.

The first-five had a towering game. He ran hard, hit gaps, kicked three penalties and a conversion and that strip of his former team-mate was priceless.

Southern 45 Dunedin 24

Both teams started the game with purpose and attacking intent and had swapped tries inside 11 minutes. Dunedin scored first off a kick through by fullback George Witana that was latched on to by winger Oscar Schmidt-Uili and he scored the unconverted try out wide.

Southern replied when burly first five-eighth Louis Tili crashed over for the converted try by the posts. The next 25 minutes saw no scoring but Dunedin looked the better side only to squander numerous opportunities.

The home side finally breached the line when midfielder Christian Keegan-Goss went over for the converted try with five minutes left in the spell.

Then inexplicably Dunedin took the foot off the accelerator and Southern winger Josh Buchan - the game's best player - broke several weak tackles to snatch the lead by two.

The telling play of the game came 12 minutes into the second spell with Dunedin hammering away on the Southern line and within a play of scoring when halfback Folau Fakatava threw a loose pass.

A pass later and the ball in the hands of flying Southern fullback Mackenzie Haugh who dashed 70m for effectively a 14 point try.

Dunedin stormed back with quick tries to both wingers Schmidt-Uili and debutant Jackson Goodwin to regain the lead with 18 minutes to play. But sadly the side once again capitulated late.

Buchan found a hole 40m out and put midfielder Riku Kitahara over. Then replacement first five-eighth Dominic Clapcott squeezed over from a lineout close to the line. Buchan made the game safe when he scored two late tries.

Apart from Buchan, Haugh was always dangerous with his extreme pace.

For Dunedin, Schmidt-Uili was the best out wide and flanker Jamie Mowat was probably the best forward on the paddock.

Taieri 27 Alhambra-Union 24

Taieri found out the hard way Alhambra-Union is no pushover.

The Broncos forward pack has been going quite nicely all year, despite the team's lowly position on the competition table.

And with Highlanders back-up loose forward Marino Mikaele-Tu'u charging the ball up every chance he got, the Eels had to battled to overcome their foe.

Alhambra had the better of Taieri for periods of the game but the visitors were more organised and cohesive out wide.

That lack of firepower in the backs has been Alhambra's Achilles heel.

Alhambra had scored late to set up a dramatic final few moments. It got a penalty and was straight back on attack and looking dangerous.

But All Black Liam Squire got his hulking frame over the ball and won a penalty at the breakdown. Taieri kicked it out and that was that. All that was left was the sound of the whistle.

Heartbreaking for Alhambra, but it picked up a consolation bonus point which was just enough to get it off the bottom of the competition standings.

The win means Taieri moves into the top four for the first time this season.

Harbour 62 Zingari-Richmond 26

Harbour overcame a spirited Zingari-Richmond side which ran rampant in the first quarter to hold an 18-12 lead at the mid-way point of the first half, and threaten an upset result in the 65th annual W.J. Scole Memorial match at Watson Park on Saturday.

Zingari-Richmond promised much in the opening exchanges scoring in the opening minute through wing Cole Bradwell. Then against the run of play Piliu Tavake brought Harbour back into the game through a try resulting from a brilliant kick and chase. But this was followed by a brilliant intercept from veteran No8 Chris Bell on halfway saw him fend off tacklers and sprint 50m to notch up his 75th try in what was his 251st premier game for Zingari-Richmond.

Despite the visitors' 15-7 lead, the tables then turned as the big tight-five from Harbour took control.

Tavake was a beneficiary, scoring a further two tries for a hat-trick, and inside backs Logan Allen and Aleki Morris scored a brace, in the convincing 10-tries-to-three victory.

It was Harbour's 11th consecutive victory in retaining the prized log of wood contested annually between the two clubs since 1955.

Featuring for Harbour were open side flanker James Tomkinson, props Joji Ravula and Saula Mau, hooker Abraham Pole and inside backs Ryan Nicholas and Aleki Morris.

Zingari-Richmond was well served by prop Jesse Muir, lock Matt McCormick and halfback Shaun Driver. Out wide Vehekite Moata'ane loomed as a danger.

 - ODT rugby writers 

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