Rugby: Late rally gets Harbour through

Southern No 8 Mika Mafi tries to elude Harbour defenders (from left) Hadleigh May, Junior T Pole...
Southern No 8 Mika Mafi tries to elude Harbour defenders (from left) Hadleigh May, Junior T Pole and Aleki Morris at Watson Park on Saturday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Southern finished top after the first round of the Dunedin competition despite suffering its first loss of the season, to Harbour, at Watson Park, on Saturday.

There appears to be a clear top four already but University A, Kaikorai and Zingari Richmond may still harbour ambitions of making the cut.

Taieri was too good for Dunedin, Zingari Richmond beat Alhambra Union in a close match, Kaikorai just beat Pirates and University A ran away from Green Island.

Harbour 18
Southern 17

The Harbour players woke up from their slumber in time to score eight points in the last 10 minutes and edge out Southern at Watson Park.

Harbour attacked with backs and forwards to score two tries in the first 14 minutes and lead 10-0.

But the Hawks went off the boil and gave away too much ball with ill directed tactical kicking that allowed Southern into the game.

The Southern forwards dominated the next 55 minutes with a solid scrum and clean work in the lineout. Prop Mike Mata'afa was dominant in the scrum and Adam Knight and Tim Ferguson controlled the lineout. No8 Mika Mafi made ground with the ball in hand.

The tactical kicking of first five eighth Ben Patston and fullback Bryce Hosie kept the pressure on Harbour.

Hosie was the player of the game with his aggressive running into the line and accurate goal kicking. He kicked four goals from five attempts to keep Southern in the game.

Harbour led 10-9 at halftime but Southern scored eight points in the first 19 minutes of the second spell to lead 17-10.

Harbour regained its attacking spark when it decided to run the ball in the last 10 minutes. Replacement winger Marckis Schaaf scored in the corner and fullback Logan Allen landed a 35m penalty in the last two minutes to win the game.

The best Harbour forwards were flanker Ratu Dawai and lock Hale T Pole. Halfback Tali Fagasoaia was the best back.

Taieri 36
Dunedin 26

This was a clash between two top four contenders but it was an average game that was over as a contest after 25 minutes.

Dunedin had lost three props to injury during the week and lost a fourth, Ox Eathorne, midway through the first half. He was replaced by lock Mark Grieve Dunn, who was also injured and left the field before halftime, meaning uncontested scrums were the order of the day, and that effectively ruined the game.

The highlight of the first half was the battle of the opensides, James Lentjes for Taieri and Alex Fitzgerald for Dunedin. When Fitzgerald left the field late in the half, Lentjes ruled supreme and helped himself to a hat trick of tries through great support play.

Shannon Young, the Taieri midfielder in his 100th game, deservedly got across for a try along with blindside Willis Scott. Taieri also bombed three or four try scoring opportunities.

Dunedin had only three penalties to show for its endeavours at halftime but won the second spell three tries to two. Wingers Henry Scott and Daryl Caldwell struck, and replacement halfback Ed Hoadley also dotted down.

Taieri won through some good counterattacking from turnovers and having four or five strong ball carrying forwards taking on the defence time after time.

Aki Seuili and Nick McLennan carried well and were supported by Scott, the outstanding Lentjes and captain Charlie O'Connell. Kori Rupene and Young were willing workers in the midfield.

For Dunedin, Tumua Ioane was the backline standout with a strong bustling display, and loose forward Hame Toma never gave a backward step. The Sharks were not helped in the second half when they went down to 14 men for 20 minutes with two yellow cards.

Zingari Richmond 39
Alhambra Union 35

Thomas Johnson helped himself to 29 points to almost single handedly defeat Alhambra Union at Montecillo.

Johnson, playing at first five eighth, banged over six penalties and converted all three tries scored by the home team as it made the most of some poor discipline by the Alhambra Union side.

The maroon forwards were aggressive at the breakdown but went too far, too often and Johnson duly kicked the goals.

The lead changed right through the match and neither team could get a decent lead.

Johnson scored a try with less than 10 minutes left to give his side a nine point cushion but impressive Alhambra Union blindside flanker Ty Pelasio showed real pace to score his second try to make it close at the end.

Prop Stu Young played well in the home side's pack, as did flanker Blair Tweed, while out the back, fullback Christian Walker ran hard.

Allan Wheeler showed plenty of punch in the Alhambra Union midfield and first five eighth Sam Ellis was tidy.

Up front, Pelasio and No8 Lance Barbarich got through plenty of work.

Kaikorai 36
Pirates 31

Kaikorai overcame a spirited Pirates side in the final minute of an enthralling encounter at Bishopscourt.

Ahead 10-0 after 12 minutes, Kaikorai appeared as if it would record a comfortable victory, through a mobile forward pack and magical touches occurring in its backline.

But when Kaikorai openside flanker Johnny Appleby was sent to the bin in the 16th minute, Pirates took full advantage to score 15 unanswered points and turn the game around.

Appleby returned to the field with his side trailing, and from there the game remained a close affair through tit for tat scoring.

Heading towards the break, Kaikorai appeared to have regained control, but on the stroke of halftime, the golden boot of Pirates first five eighth Craig Sneddon buoyed Pirates as he converted a penalty goal of Don Clarke proportions, 55m into the wind.

The game was locked at 31-31 with time almost up, a draw looking to be a fair reflection of what was an epic game for both sides.

But a deft touch from Kaikorai second five eighth Logan Moore unleashed left winger Sean Conner for a try to break the deadlock and bring the curtain down on a match that showcased skills from both sides.

University A 64
Green Island 12

The students ran away with the game at the University Oval with a quick three try burst right before halftime.

University had opened the scoring with a try by halfback Dan Crowley after seven minutes but Green Island dominated the next 20 minutes and its forwards showed plenty of fight.

But it could not score enough points and University A finally got its hands on the ball and scored three tries before the break.

That gave it a healthy lead and in the second half it moved the ball from all parts of the field and was too quick and too slick for Green Island.

Backs Shae Tucker and Kieran Parker found plenty of space and made the most of it.

Veteran front rower Jeremy Aldworth, who last played premier rugby five years ago, came off the bench and helped himself to two tries, popping up at just the right time. Matt Faddes also looked lively in the second spell.

Green Island never threw in the towel but lacked the pace to keep up with University.

The only worry for the students was the loss of five eighth Stephen Fenemor, who left the field with an injury.

 

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