Southern claim first win of season
It was good to have a good turn out of both Club’s Life Members and Committee, along with members of the Watson family prior to the match in the Clubrooms. to enjoy a drink and a light lunch before the battle ensued.
The Magpies started strongly and used the strong wind well to get good field position. The forwards dominated their opposition in the scrum and had the better of them in close contact. With Zingari looking to move the ball in their own half this opened up opportunities for Southern to strike on turnovers. The team had their best half of the season and led 34-7 at halftime.
Josh Gordon, playing on the right wing, has made a welcome return to the team after being away up north in 2017. His size, strength and speed have added a new dimension to the backline in 2018. He scored a hat trick of tries before halftime on Saturday and must be forcing the Otago selectors to take notice of him.
Liam Howley has also made the most of his opportunities and has given direction to the team with good tactical kicking and quick passing to release the backline. Paul Tupai was the other player to catch the eye and scored a good try in combination with Josh Ioane who only played the second half.
In the forwards the new recruits – big prop Jone Lesi and tall lock Caleb Aperahama – added steel to the pack, and will be important players as the season goes on. Gregor Croudis, after cricket commitments had delayed his start to the season, made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown at openside flank.
In the second half they went off the boil somewhat and didn’t score any points until the last minute, Zingari got their game going and scored two good tries to bring the score back to 34-19 bfore Tupai’s final try.
The team now sits in 4th place, only one point off second spot, with University leading the competition after getting off to a flying start with 3 wins.
This week the Premiers will play Taieri at Peter Johnstone Park in Mosgiel for the Roy Nieper trophy. Taieri after a first round bye, have easily won their matches against Dunedin and Taieri and are looking to be a real contender this year’s title after finishing down the table in 2017. The match will give both teams an idea of where they stand in the race for the top 4. Neither team will have their Highlander wider squad members available due to a strangely timed “development” match on Saturday prior to the Highlanders match.
Other match reports courtesy of the ODT:
Taieri won the battle over its neighbour at Peter Johnstone Park, and Dunedin got home late against Kaikorai.
University maintained its winning record while Harbour remained winless in a closely fought game at Watson Park.
The match was all locked up with two unconverted tries each at halftime and there was never much between the sides.
Harbour drove well and its loose forwards were strong ball carriers.
It went ahead about midway through the second half as it barged over but University refused to go away.
With time all but up on the clock, the students pressed on the line, and hammered away, as Harbour gave away penalties. Eventually, the pressure told and University pivot Roman Blackman spied a gap and went over to score.
University fullback Tom Morrison banged over the conversion from a handy enough position to win the game.
The wind made the game a bit of a lottery and goal kicking was not easy. Much of the game consisted of one-off ball runners.
University hooker Ricky Jackson had a fine match while second five-eighth Tyler Beary was solid throughout for the students.
Harbour lock Sione Misiloi gave his all as did No 8 Solomon Pole. Coach Ryan Nicholas, playing against his old team, straightened up play well for Harbour in the midfield
Green Island 19
Taieri always looked in control on its home track in the match against neighbour Green Island.
Taieri led 25-12 at the break and though Green Island got it back to 28-19 early in the second half, Taieri then skipped away.
It was the first game in nearly six months for Highlanders flanker James Lentjes and he took to the game like duck to water.He was all over the park, never far from the ball, and played most of the match before being substituted. Taieri shared the points around and used its forwards to rumble the ball up and Highlanders prop Aki Seiuli was a solid ball carrier.Taieri right winger Marc Rooney helped himself to a brace of tries.
Neither side could get much momentum into their game and the match was up and down the field for most of the 80 minutes.
Green Island No 8 Josh Hayward was industrious in everything he did, while Peter Mirrielees got round the field.
Former Taieri and Otago captain Charlie O’Connell made an appearance off the bench late in the game, replacing his brother, Vinnie. O’Connell is working in Christchurch but turned out for his old club as he was back in town for the weekend.
Kaikorai played with the advantage of a strong breeze at its back in the first spell at Bishopscourt and nailed four penalties through Gus Gray.
Dunedin, in one of its few forays into Kaikorai territory, had big prop Teague McElroy latch on to a loose pass and he showed surprising pace to scamper 20m to score a converted try to keep it in touch.
From an overthrown Dunedin lineout close to its own line, Kaikorai No8 Patrick McCurran simply had to catch and fall over the line. On halftime, Dunedin winger Rory Ward glided into a hole off a George Witana pass. He threw a great floating pass to fullback Josh McKay who used his extreme pace to dot down and cut the lead to 19-14 at the break.
Early in the second half, Kaikorai winger Layne Opetetaia went over out wide after a sustained build-up to extend the side’s lead.
Then the Dunedin pack took control with a couple of tightheads thrown in, some solid and powerful ball-carrying which had the visitors well up with six minutes to go.
Then came the ‘‘coach killer’’ — in this case, the coach himself. Replacement prop and forward coach Bronson Ross threw an intercept to Kaikorai winger Jordan McEntee who gratefully ran 80m to give Kaikorai a one-point lead with four minutes to go.
But the Dunedin pack resumed normal service and drove powerfully back into Kaikorai territory. Witana kicked two late penalties to win the game and Dunedin became the new holder of the Challenge Shield.
For Dunedin McElroy, Alex Ainley and fellow lock Liam Trainor were inspirational in the pack. Witana took all his chances and the midfield of James Te Pairi-Simpson and Solofa Silipa were solid on attack and defence.
For Kaikorai lock Sean Jansen was into everything, while Dan Pryor and Slade McDowell were extremely disruptive in the loose. Josh Renton was tidy at halfback and Matt Jones was lively at the back.
Taieri 42 (Marc Rooney 2, Kori Rupene, Brodie Hume, Ryan Williams tries; Josh Casey 4 con, 3 pen), Green Island 19 (Peter Mirrielees, Josh Hayward, Kalolo Tuiloma tries; Ben Patston con, Finn Strawbridge con).
Southern 39 (Josh Gordon 3, Michael Mata’afa, Louis Tili, Josh Ioane tries; Bryce Hosie 3 con, pen), Zingari-Richmond 19 (Chris Bell, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Keenan Masina tries; Thomas Johnson 2 con).
Dunedin 37 (Teague McElroy, Josh McKay, Corrie Barrett, George Witana tries; Witana 4 con, 3 pen), Kaikorai 32 (Patrick McCurran, Jordan McEntee, Layne Opetetaia tries; Gus Gray 5 pen, con).
University 17 (Josh Dickson, Sam Dickson, Roman Blackman tries; Tom Morrison con), Harbour 15 (Sione Misiloi, Solomon Pole, Ngana Nicholas tries)