The Tasman Red Devils repelled another stern challenge for the Seddon Shield, finishing strongly to overcome West Coast 20-17 in Murchison on Saturday.
The Coasters started stronger, scoring an early converted try as the Devils battled for cohesion after a limited build-up.
A penalty to goalkicker Corey Bovey reduced the margin, then a converted try to Timoci Tavatavanawai saw the Devils take a 10-7 lead into the sheds at halftime.
Again the Coasters came out stronger, levelling the scores through a penalty then going ahead 17-10 with a second converted try as they built on a string of penalties earned off the back of scrum dominance.
However the Devils were not done, a second Bovey penalty putting them within one score of the lead. Then, with seven minutes to go and after a period of concerted pressure on the West Coast line, flanker Braden Stewart touched down near the posts and Bovey banged over the conversion to keep the shield safe for another day.
Assistant coach Baz Henare said front rowers Seymour Lambert, Quinn Harrison-Jones, Stewart, halfback Ben Finau, winger Nigel Satherley, plus newcomers Mitch Smith at fullback and hard-working lock Dylan Burns had impressive games.
He also said both sides looked rusty, coming off limited preparation, and showed a lack of structure for long periods.
In the early game the Nelson Griffins were much too strong for Buller, racing away with a 47-17 victory, subsequently booking the second challenge of the season for the prized symbol of top of the south rugby supremacy.
The Devils and Griffins will meet at Lansdowne Park on Saturday, August 17, with the shield at stake.
On Saturday, the Red Devils will play Buller and the Griffins will take on West Coast, both games in Murchison, serving as warm-up fixtures for the forthcoming Heartland competition. The shield will not be at stake.
Marlborough 20 (Timoci Tavatavanawai, Braden Stewart tries, Corey Bovey 2 con, 2 pen) West Coast 17. HT: 10-7.
Blues win thriller
Central are the Marlborough division two club champions after edging past Moutere 16-14 in a thrilling and highly-competitive final at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.
With five minutes on the clock the Magpies led 14-13, then up stepped Blues’ first five Ra Tamati who calmly slammed over a dropped goal from 40m to put his side into the lead.
However, there was further drama a few minutes later when Moutere goalkicker Amco Cassidy, who scored all his side’s points, had a chance to win it but pushed his penalty attempt wide.
Best of the Blues, who lost skipper Dan Crockett early with a leg injury, were front rowers John Pale, Fetu Ieremia and John Hart, plus the talented and versatile Tamati. Cassidy stood out for Moutere, along with halfback Josh Ludemann and lock Lockie Broughton.
Central 16 (James Marzola try, Ra Tamati 2 pen, con, dropped goal) Moutere 14 (Amco Cassidy try, 3 pen). HT: 3-3
Tasman under-19 beaten
The Tasman under-19 rep side warmed up for their forthcoming campaign with a match against their Wellington counterparts at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.
It was the first hit-out for Tasman, who lost 50-28 but showed in patches that they are more than capable of putting some strong passages of play together.
Coach Dan Perrin he and his fellow management team were looking for the right attitude and intent and “it was bang-on in the first and last periods of the match”.
“We have only had three trainings at this stage,” he said, “so there was bound to be rust but we saw plenty of potential and real talent. It’s just about putting it all together”.
He mentioned Matt Graham-Williams, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Bailey Tau Tau, Campbell Parata, Saul Lewis and Mitch Barry as players to stand out.
Their next game is against Canterbury in Hanmer on Saturday, followed by their first seeding match, against Otago in Christchurch, the following weekend.
College side coming right
Marlborough Boys’ College First XV continued their late-season UC championship revival with a 62-21 victory over Roncalli Aoraki Combined in Timaru on Saturday.
MBC began well, keeping the home side out of the game and scoring at over a point-a-minute.
Well-structured, solid forward carries by the likes of Te Ariki Peipi, Olly Lawson, Tino Vakaloa and Andre Hebberd created momentum, which was finished by some incisive running from the backs.
Especially impressive were Lotu Solomona and Keelan Murrell, while some of the bigger lads stood out with long-range finishing efforts, namely Bayley O’Hagan and Vili Napa’a, who was a real handful, running strongly in close and out wide.
There was also plenty of solid defence from the lower numbers, especially a couple of bone-crunching tackles from front rowers, Peipi and Vakaloa.
Roncalli picked up three second half tries using a strong tailwind to full advantage.
MBC 62 (Bayley O’Hagan, Vili Napa’a, Liam Duncan, Lotu Solomona, Clyde Paewai, Ryan McLeod, Edan Fitzpatrick, Brad Thomas, Keelan Murrell, Kyran Taumoefolau tries, Murrell 6 con) Roncalli Combined 21. HT 43-0.
Other results: Timaru 62 Waimea 0; Nelson 54 Lincoln 12; St Bede’s 94 Mid Canterbury 0; St Thomas 31 Shirley 15; Christchurch 38 Rangiora 12; Christ’s 28 St Andrew’s 10.
Standings: Nelson 55, St Andrew’s 48, St Bede’s 47, Christchurch 45, Christ’s 43, St Thomas 35, Rangiora 34, Lincoln 29, Marlborough 28, Timaru 24, Shirley 21, Waimea 9, Roncalli 8, Mid Canty 2.