Win gives Harbour share of competition lead

Zingari-Richmond's Shaun Driver attempts to tackle Alhambra-Union No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u as...
Zingari-Richmond's Shaun Driver attempts to tackle Alhambra-Union No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u as Leigh Hotham watches during their match at the North Ground on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Harbour scored three tries in the final quarter of the game to secure a 26-9 win against Dunedin. The win elevated the Hawks into a share of first place with Green Island. University pushed its way into the top four with a powerful effort up front. It scrummed its way to a 25-7 win against Green Island at Logan Park. Taieri stayed in touch with the top four thanks to a 34-20 win against Southern at Bathgate Park, while Alhambra-Union achieved its first win of the season. It ran out 40-23 winner against Zingari-Richmond at the North Ground.

University 25 Green Island 7

Knock on. No worries.

University's scrum dominance was so total that dropping the ball forward was almost a tactical advantage.

The front row of Kilipati Lea, Ricky Jackson and Angus Williams deserved a standing ovation.

They played a massive role in the 25-7 win against Green Island.

It became obvious just how big their contribution would be when University shoved Green Island off its own ball on the 5m mark.

The captain Jack McHugh scooped the ball up and dived over to score.

Earlier, Emeka Ilogu scored in the corner after Green Island made an error in its own 22.

The Grizzlies made their share of blunders.

Perhaps they panicked after seeing the scrum back-pedal. They certainly played a little too much in the conditions and pushed too many passes.

But they strung some good rugby together, as well.

The try to winger Niven Longopoa was a cracker. It must have gone through just about everybody's hands before Longopoa got free on the outside and scored in the corner.

The rain got heavier in the second half and that only enhanced University's scrum dominance.

First five-eighth Mike Williams drilled a penalty to stretch the half time lead to 20-7.

He kicked well and fullback Taylor Haugh was ever threatening when he got the ball.

Otago No 8 Dylan Nel was a colossus for Green Island, and lock Sean Jansen was abrasive.

Alhambra-Union 40 Zingari-Richmond 23

Alhambra-Union can breathe again.

It got rid of the doughnut in the win column thanks to a comprehensive 40-23 win against Zingari-Richmond.

The tight five laid the platform with an impressive display.

Prop Tristian Fuli led the charge in the engine room, while Highlanders back-up loose forward Marino Mikaele-Tui had a powerful game.

He scored two tries and was a handful for the defence.

Pivot Levi Emery made the odd mistake but scored two tries as well and drilled five conversions.

Zingari had a couple of nice moments in an otherwise disappointing day. The Colours grabbed a 55m intercept try and Chris Bell scored a five-pointer in his 250th game for the premier side.

The game was reflective of where both sides are placed in the competition. The skill and option-taking was a bit average.

But Alhambra could always go back to its scrum to establish some dominance and it worked well.

It turned down very kickable penalties and was rewarded for its endeavour with six tries.

Alhambra's lineout operated pretty smoothly, as well. Lock Callum Donnelly was the key man in that phase.

Thomas Johnson kicked three penalties for Zingari and converted both tries. But the Colours lacked imagination on attack and did not get enough ball.

Taieri 34 Southern 20

Taieri got the better of a titanic forward battle in the Roy Nieper Trophy match at Bathgate Park, to defeat Southern 34-20.

Scoring a brace of tries, Josh Iosefa-Scott proved an imposing figure both at the breakdown and in defence.

The big prop used his size to assist locks Ben Morris and Don Lolo in dominating at the lineout.

That trio, along with hooker Tom Hardy and fellow front-rower Kieran O'Sullivan, proved an immovable force in defence of the Taieri line.

They played a huge role in repelling any threat posed by Southern as it attempted to wrestle back some points.

Although Southern dominated the opening exchanges and opened the scoring through No8 Mika Mafi, Taieri was quick to regroup and take on the battle up front.

Midway through the half the Eels took the lead through a try to Hardy beginning a see-saw exchange of the lead.

But it Taieri finished the half by making a statement to the home side.

Iosefa-Scott powered over in a sea of Southern defenders to hand the Eels a hard-fought 24-17 lead at the break.

An intensive forward battle ensued throughout the second half.

Iosefa-Scott had the final say to forward superiority, with a second try inside the final five minutes.

Then an impressive mid-air take by Taieri wing Tyler Ford off a high cross-field bomb with time up and Southern pounding the Taieri line sealed Southern's fate and stamped a pass mark on a Taieri victory.

Harbour 26 Dunedin 9

It was a very even first half at Watson Park and the sides were separated only by a try to Harbour blindside Joseph Williams after a big break by No8 Solomon Pole 10 minutes into the game. Harbour led 11-6 at the break.

The two first five-eighths, George Witana for Dunedin and Logan Allen for Harbour, split four penalties in the first half. Harbour's lineout misfired all day and that certainly hampered its progress in the first spell. The home side's big ball runners were comfortably held by an understrength Dunedin pack.

Dunedin dominated the first 25 minutes of the second spell but, much the same as the week before, could not get the ball across the line and squandered numerous chances with average handling in the backs

It only had another Witana penalty to show for its efforts.

Sione Misiloi, coming back from an ankle injury, came on with 20 minutes to provide yet another big ball runner and he combined with big prop Saula Mau to start creating holes with big carries. The Dunedin defence finally cracked and gave up three late tries, to left winger Piliu Tavake, the game's best player James Tomkinson, and a second to Williams. This gave the score a lopsided feel but earned Harbour a precious bonus point.

For Harbour, Tomkinson was everywhere on defence and put on some big hits and was glued to the ball at times. Saula Mau, the gargantuan prop, ate up the metres on the carry and diminutive halfback Jinhu Mun cleared the ball well.

Prop Teague McElroy was a tower of strength for Dunedin. The locks Richard Thompson and Ben Freschini got through a power of work and dominated the lineouts and flanker Jamie Mowat tackled himself to a standstill. But Dunedin's best was halfback Folau Fakatava. His clearance was electric, his running game powerful, and he played like an extra loose forward.

 - ODT rugby writers 

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