Shock win keeps Dunedin’s chance of playoffs alive

Taieri flanker Josh Brown attempts to fend off Kaikorai fullback Ben Miller at Bishopscourt on...
Taieri flanker Josh Brown attempts to fend off Kaikorai fullback Ben Miller at Bishopscourt on Saturday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Has Dunedin found a way to claw its way back into contention?

A shock 47-14 win against Southern has provided the Sharks a playoff lifeline.

Taieri dealt Kaikorai’s semifinal prospects a blow with a thrilling 46-40 win and moved into second place.

University added to its lead at the top of the standings with a 59-24 win against Zingari-Richmond, while Green Island edged Alhambra-Union 20-17.

Harbour had a bye and slipped back to third place.

Taieri    46
Kaikorai    40

Taieri snapped a three-game losing streak but it had to score nearly 50 points to overcome a desperate Kaikorai at Bishopscourt.

The Eels seemed hell bent on making it tough for themselves. Experienced second five-eighth Kori Rupene gave away a penalty try and spent 10 minutes in the bin for slapping down a pass when Kaikorai had a clear overlap and would have scored.

Hard-working loosie Josh Brown also had a stint behind the posts for foot tripping.Then there were two intercept tries early in the second half which gave Kaikorai a two-point lead.

But Taieri first five-eighth Brodie Flannery had a wonderful day with the boot, drilling five conversions and two penalties in a 16-point haul.

Those two penalties got his side back in front with about 20 minutes remaining. The backs did the rest.Under-rated winger Glen Beadle was on the end of the simple set piece move and reached over in the tackle to score in the corner.

Then impressive centre Matt Whaanga crashed over close to the ruck to score his second try and put the game out of reach.

Kaikorai did not give up, though. Hooker Sam Wyber brushed aside two tacklers and got an off load away to Sean Jansen, who scored.

Then Kaikorai was awarded a second penalty try from a monster scrum right at the end of the game. That was enough to grab a second bonus point and hold on to fourth place.

Dunedin    47
Southern    14

Dunedin is not done yet.

The Sharks scored 33 unanswered points in the second half to upset Southern 47-14 at Bathgate Park.

Earlier this month Dunedin was thumped 63-10 by University and a place in the semifinals looked a remote possibility.

But suddenly the team is back in contention. It will need to win its remaining games against Harbour and Green Island and that will not be easy.

It will also need Kaikorai and Southern to lose their remaining matches. But there is hope and the way Dunedin played in the second half, albeit against an understrength Southern side, it would be a threat if it made it.

The game was locked 14-14 at the break. But Dunedin had blown a  few opportunities and took more momentum into the second half.

Its midfield combination of  Isaiah Duncanson and Zac Harrison-Jones created havoc and the gaps started opening up pretty regularly.

Highlanders lock Alex Ainley was dominant and his second row partner Mark Grieve-Dunn put in another very solid shift.

The set pieces were fairly even but Dunedin was hitting the rucks harder and was able to pin Southern in its own territory for long periods in the second half.

No 8 Kyle Harris had a strong game for the Magpies, while Duncanson was the standout for Dunedin, followed closely by Ainley.

Green Island    20
Alhambra-Union    17

Green Island ought to start the campaign to ditch bonus points now.The club will look back at this season and wonder what would have been possible with a few more bonus points.It posted its sixth win this season with a 20-17 win against Alhambra-Union at the North Ground.

Just the three tries, of course. Those four-try bonus points have been hard to come by for the club.

Still, six wins represents a pretty good season for a team which has struggled in the past. Either side could have won a tight fixture.

An Alex Barnsley penalty was ultimately all that separated the teams.

The honours up front were shared, although the Green Island pack got better as the game went on.

Alhambra-Union will lament a yellow card for talented loose forward Ben Tuiomanufili. He got 10 minutes for a high tackle midway through the second half. During his absence Green Island scored to take what proved to be an unassailable 20-17 lead.

Alhambra-Union was a little guilty of trying to get the ball wide to sevens star Vilimoni Koroi too early and when other options would have been more prudent.

But when Koroi got the pill in his hands he was very dangerous and went in for one try.

Green Island hooker Jake-Lane Fowler and flanker Brett Kingsbury were strong in loose play and second five-eighth Delany McKenzie proved hard to tackle.

University    59
Zingari-Richmond    24

This fixture has not always ended well for Zingari-Richmond.

Two years ago University humbled the Colours 137-0 at Montecillo.

The homes side enjoyed close to parity up front, so there was to be no repeat of that lopsided encounter.

Still, University was superior on the flanks and when it got the ball wide it was able to run in some pretty nice tries.

Out of favour Highlanders utility back Matt Faddes scored two of his team’s nine tries.

University led 31-5 at the break but Zingari-Richmond played some decent rugby in the second 40 minutes and ran in three more tries to nab a four-try bonus point.

That point will not shift it off the bottom of the standings. It has had that position cemented for some time. But the home team played with pride and veteran No8 Chris Bell dotted down twice.

Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura looked dangerous when he ran the ball.University centre Thomas Umaga-Jensen was arguably the best on display. He showed some nifty footwork and ran some good angles.

University lock Ben Reidy connected with some hard tackles and kept busy at ruck time.

The win took University to 61 points and increased  its buffer at the top of the standings to 13 points.


Round 16
The scores

Taieri 46 (Matt Whaanga 2, Tom Hardy, Brodie Hume, Kurt Hammer, Glen Beadle tries; Brodie Flannery 5 con, 2 pen), Kaikorai 40 (Christian Lio-Willie, Matt Jones, Sean Jansen, Ben Miller tries; 2 penalty tries; Miller 3 con). Halftime: 19-14.

University 59 (Matt Faddes 2, Callum Hardie, Ricky Jackson, Jack McHugh, Tom Morrison, Emeka Ilogu, Connor McLeod tries; penalty try; Roman Blackman 3 con, Fletcher Smith 3 con), Zingari-Richmond 24 (Chris Bell 2, Tevita Nabura, Devin Redfern tries; Thomas Johnson 2 con). Halftime: 31-5.

Dunedin 47 (Mark Grieve-Dunn, Morgan Reedy, Rory Ward, Isaiah Duncanson, Josh McKay, Ben Taylor, Jared Fahey tries; Cormac Fox 6 con), Southern 14 (Michael Mata’afa, Louis Tili tries; Mackenzie Haugh 2 con). Halftime: 14-14.

Green Island 20 (Brett Kingsbury, Richard Buchanan, Shane McNoe tries; Alex Barnsley con, pen), Alhambra-Union 17 (John Tapueluelu, Vilimoni Koroi, Legin Hotham tries; Brady Kingan con). Halftime: 12-10.

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