Waitohi claimed top seeding for the Marlborough sub-union rugby semifinals with an emphatic 47-15 win over Moutere in Picton on Saturday.
A 21-point scoring burst just prior to halftime at Endeavour Park allowed the Tohis to take control of a tough encounter. After 30 minutes of see-sawing play Waitohi trailed 5-8, battling to hold off a strong challenge from the Magpies.
However, within 10 minutes the game’s complexion changed completely, converted tries to centre Daniel Samita, flanker Taine Cragg-Love and No 8 Taimi Fangatua allowing the Tohis a commanding 26-8 halftime lead.
Three more second half tries clinched the deal for the home side, with Moutere claiming a consolation touchdown on full time to make the final score 47-15.
Waitohi’s versatile player/coach Jimmy Giles, who wore the 10 shirt this week with ace goalkicker Corey Bovey unavailable, said they had expected a tough challenge.
“Things haven’t been going their way this season but they are a better team than results suggested … so we knew they were going to come our house and give us a good go.
“After a week off [with the bye] I reminded the lads that we couldn’t be low in the first part of the match, but I think we were.
“We missed Corey today, especially his direction, but we eventually worked out where we could attack them and once we got some momentum we went on from there.”
Giles had praise for a couple of “guys who often fly under the radar”, winger Euygene Taylor, who stepped up both with the boot and in general play, plus hard-working lock Jack Evans. Flanker Cragg-Love was again energetic and prominent, along with exciting backs Saia Tokai at halfback, centre Daniel Samita and fullback Fetuli Paea.
Hooker Aiden Gane, lock Mike Leger-Kula and No 8 Matt McCormick shone up front for the Magpies, with halfback Ben Finau, midfielders Aki Kaumavae and Petueli Taufaga creative out wide.
Things were a lot closer in Seddon, where East Coast and Central battled to a 12-12 draw. The Blues led 7-5 at halftime, with the home side winning the second half by the same margin to share the points.
With two rounds to be played before the semifinals Waitohi are assured of top spot, with Moutere, who have a bye next week, now very likely to miss the cut.
Standings (provisional): Waitohi 39, Central 31*, East Coast 28, Renwick 18, Moutere 13*. *Still have a bye.
Scores: Waitohi 47 (Daniel Samita 2, Taine Cragg-Love, Taimi Fangatua, Stefan Roguski, Saia Tokai, Duane Aholelei tries, Euygene Taylor 3 con, Fetuli Paea 2 con, Cragg-Love con) Moutere 15 (Matt McCormick, Max Freydell tries, Freydell con, pen). HT: 26-8 Waitohi.
Central 12 (Jake Cresswell, Logan Robinson tries, Glen Smith con) East Coast 12. HT: 7-5 Central.
The Moutere’s women’s team returned to their winning ways with a 50-7 win over Awatere in Seddon on Friday night. Moutere, who lost their unbeaten record to Waimea Old Boys the previous weekend, now sit just a single point behind leaders Waimea on the Tasman division one table.
Meanwhile, the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV were unable to reverse a recent trend in their UC championship campaign, losing 28-19 to Lincoln Combined today. Their sixth loss sees MBC slip to 10th on the standings.
Head coach Matt MacDougall said a high error rate from his charges, plus some crucial missed tackles, allowed the country side to take control of the match after MBC led 14-12 at the break.
With 10 minutes to go MBC trailed 25-19 before conceding what MacDougall described as a “silly penalty”, allowing Lincoln to close out proceedings.
He said midfielder Tristan Taylor had “one of his best games” along with centre David Asiata and the tireless William McKenzie on the flank.
Next up for MBC is a home game on Saturday against powerhouse Christchurch BHS.
Scores: Lincoln Combined 28 Marlborough Boys’ College 19 (Tino Vakaloa, Monu Moli, Ryan McLeod tries, Keelan Murrell 2 con). HT: 14-12 MBC
Other UC championship results from Saturday: Christchurch BHS 88 Waimea 0; St Andrew’s 62 Mid Canterbury 6; Shirley 38 Roncalli 7; Nelson 24 Timaru 22; St Bede’s 32 St Thomas 17; Christ’s College 29 Rangiora 10.