Marlborough’s rugby grounds were fully utilised on Saturday, as junior rugby returned after the lockdown delay.
Under clear, blue skies the region’s younger brigade finally put the skills they had been practicing at home to good use on the field, while the senior players were also back in action, heading towards finals late next month.
In Picton, a 30-15 victory over Awatere today ensured Waitohi are firmly back on track to defend their Marlborough sub-union division one crown.
The Tohis recently dropped back-to-back games to Central and Moutere but, after tipping over Renwick last weekend and Awatere today, showed they are still the team to beat. They led Awatere 18-3 at halftime and, although the second half honours were shared 12-12, they had enough points on the board to get the job done. They also registered four tries to pick up a valuable bonus point.
Player/coach Jimmy Giles was happy with the amount of scoring opportunities his side created, although they were unable to take advantage of them all.
Outstanding for the Tohis in what Giles described as an “all-round team effort” was prop Losi Malimali, back from suspension, hooker Taimi Fangatua, flanker Taine Cragg-Love, halfback Karlos Tautari and young first five Dylan McManaway who is relishing the opportunity to learn from Mako utility Tim O’Malley.
It was also Waitohi’s club day, the rugby club joining with Tokomaru netball and Picton’s footballers to make it a community occasion at Endeavour Park.
Awatere’s best were midfielders Sione Vea and Ben Filipo, plus hard-working forward Jack Roberton.
In Saturday’s other match, Renwick comfortably accounted for Moutere 53-16 at the Renwick Domain. The Green Machine led 24-6 at the break and continued to rack up the tries against a side who went a player down after 25 minutes when their midfielder was shown a second yellow card for a no-arms tackle, then a red.
In top form for Renwick were midfielder Kyle Marfell, loosie Cody Weir, lock Atu Taufa, first five Alex Barnsley, loose head prop Sione Lonitenisi and No 8 Kurt Schollum. A “cameo” appearance late in the game by former Mako player Cory Holdaway underscored a growing injury toll in the home side’s ranks.
Head coach Glen Blackmore said his side had “been a bit more ruthless”.
“The last couple of weeks we haven’t finished well, fell off the pace late in the game, so we put a lot of emphasis on that this week.”
Competition leaders Central had a bye. With three rounds remaining until the play-offs the Blues, Renwick and Waitohi are already assured of places in the semi-finals. The battle for the final position will come down to Awatere and Moutere, who meet at Awarua Park in the final round on August 15.
Renwick 53 (Atu Taufa, Sione Lonitenisi, Alex Barnsley, Mesake Bula, Regan Marshall, Michael Dillon, Ty Bampton, Sailasa Legeti 2 tries, Dillon 4 con) Moutere 16 (Pene Toa, Ben Finau tries, Amco Cassidy 2 pen). HT: 26-6
Waitohi 30 (Stefan Roguski, Taimi Fangatua 2, Losi Malimali tries, Tim O’Malley 2 con, 2 pen) Awatere 15 (Sione Vea, Javi Nivevs tries, Franco Quinones con, pen). HT: 18-3
Division one standings: Central 23, Renwick 20, Waitohi 18, Awatere 6, Moutere 6.
In division two action Renwick lost to Moutere 37-10 at Renwick, MBC Old Boys were beaten 48-19 by Central at Lansdowne Park and Awatere accounted for Pelorus 52-14 in Seddon.
In the Tasman women’s division one grade, Central had another tough afternoon, going down 87-5 to Riwaka at Lansdowne Park. Moutere have a bye.
An inability to finish games strongly continues to cost the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV in the University of Canterbury championship.
On Saturday they suffered their second successive loss in a week when they went down 27-14 to Rangiora High School in Rangiora. The previous Monday they lost 43-17 to Nelson College on the MBC front field.
In Rangiora, MBC started strongly, as they have in most of their matches. They went to the break 14-7 ahead, but that was the extent of the good news. As soon as the home side got their noses in front, MBC were unable to respond.
“The wheels fell off when Rangiora got ahead of us,” said disappointed MBC coach Matt MacDougall.
“It has been the story of our year. As soon as teams get ahead of us we start to lose belief, our structure goes out of the window and they find it very hard to claw their way back.”
Jake Pacey and Ryan McLeod scored MBC’s two tries, Kyren Taemoefolau converting both. Outstanding with ball in hand for MBC was No 8 Viliami Napa’a who made 17 carries, while fullback Cameron Collins made a strong fist of the fullback’s role.
Jack Fisher-McKinney also shone in his first start, along with young loosie Arlyn Bull, who made his debut.
Their fifth loss of the season relegates MBC to 11th on the UC table. Next up is a home game against Christchurch Boys’ High School next Saturday.