Real Blokes stun Varsity to kick off round two
A determined Te Kawau side pulled off the biggest upset of the McDonalds Manawatu Senior One club rugby season putting a huge dent in Varsity’s playoff aspirations.
It was hardly the way Varsity wanted to celebrate their 90th anniversary as they stumbled and fumbled their way through 80 minutes losing 16-9 in front of a bumper home crowd at the Massey University Sport and Rugby Institute.
Te Kawau, anchored to the bottom of the standings heading into the match, played like a polished machine, while Varsity could barely handle a pass.
Liam Mitchell turned on a performance akin to a rugby league lock with a huge number of hit-ups matched with a massive tackle count.
And while the Hurricanes lock was toiling away, it was his locking partner Matthew Lyttle who reaped the rewards in the form of two crucial tries.
Karihi Potaka-Osborne, both at halfback and on the wing, centre Kameli Kuruyabaki, hooker Sam Stewart and No 8 Te Atuarere Albert were others to stand out.
It was not always a pretty game, but the tight exchanges favoured Te Kawau.
Four players spent time in the sinbin Doug Juszczyk (repeated infringements), Regan Sword (team penalties), Ethan Woodmass (no arms tackle) and Isiah Tuputupu (team penalties).
Varsity’s backline struggled with basic catch-pass in the damp conditions.
They failed to build any kind of rhythm and rarely had Te Kawau under pressure.
The likes of Te Rangatira Waitokia seemed wasted at centre, while playing attacking No 10 Cody Hemi at fullback meant he was rarely involved in the game.
Regardless of their struggles, they did manage to take a 9-8 lead into the break thanks to the boot of Nick Birchfield.
In the first round, Te Kawau made a habit of falling away in the second half.
But this time they had depth to call on from their bench, each player adding more spark to a pack that was smelling blood in the water.
When Lyttle dotted down for his second try two minutes into the second half, there appeared to be an inevitability as to how the remainder of the match would go.
And Varsity didn’t fire a shot until the dying minutes.
For the final four minutes, they were camped down on Te Kawau’s tryline only to be respectively denied by the fired up Te Kawau pack. Fittingly it was yet another knock on which ended Varsity’s chances and sparked wild celebrations from the deserving Te Kawau side.
Trips to Kimbolton rarely leave opposition sides much to celebrate, but College Old Boys poured on 33 unanswered points in a monster second half effort to hammer Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 50-17.
FOB-Oroua were missing most of their backline which meant much of the side were playing out of position.
Despite leaking two early tries to Johnny Galloway and Andrew McDougall, the Stags managed to fight their way back into the match through their strong pick-and-go game.
James Jenkins and Paul Rakatau-Wiperi bagged tries for them and Tom Stewart’s boot kept the Stags on even pegging with the Jubilee Cup winners.
Andre Taylor was particularly lethal for COB.
At 17-17 at the break, it was anybody’s game.
But the Stags buckled in the second half conceding five tries, including a penalty try from a scrum, as COB ran away with the match.
Feilding Yellows returned to second on the competition ladder after a 23-17 win over Old Boys-Marist.
But it was a match that highlighted that OBM belong in the top four of the 2019 competition.
Yellows started in fine form with two tries within the first eight minutes to Ben Wyness and Brad Carr.
With an 18-0 lead after 23 minutes, Yellows should have had the match in the bag.
But they failed to land the knock-out blow, allowing OBM to stick in the match.
A try to Cam Black saw OBM close the score to 18-7 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half, they were in again after a perfectly run line from wing Will Treder off a scrum.
Yellows may have struggled to find in-roads on attack, but it was hard to fault their defence which rejected OBM’s persistent attacks on their tryline.
That defensive effort included 10 minutes with 14 men after Stewart MacGregor was yellow carded for a reckless charge down attempt with 15 minutes to play.
OBM narrowed the gap to one point through a penalty.
As the final minutes ticked away, Yellows had OBM pinned on their own line and were quick to swoop with MacGregor putting the match beyond doubt.
After a tight first half, Kia Toa ran away as 29-9 winners over Freyberg.
The hosts gave Kia Toa a scare in the first half.
While they did not look likely to score a try, they bagged three penalties and the likes of Andrew Wood, Tom Finlay and Faalelei Sione, who also impressed with his running around the park, made themselves a nuisance for Kia Toa at the breakdown.
The wind and rain did not suit Kia Toa’s attacking style and when they eventually opted for a shot at goal from a penalty in the 25th minute, it was a sign of respect to Freyberg’s defence.
First five-eighth Tobias Wickham-Manuel eventually broke through Freyberg’s line for the first try, the conversion slotted by dropped goal after the ball blew off the tee for Keaton Kawana at the last second, which was enough to give Kia Toa a 10-9 lead at the break.
With superior fitness and depth, not to mention a strong wind at their backs, Kia Toa pulled away in the second half with three tries.
Te Kawau 16 (Matthew Lyttle 2 tries; Adam Boult 2 pen) Varsity 9 (Nick Birchfield 3 pen) HT 9-8 Varsity)
College Old Boys 50 (Johnny Galloway, Andrew McDougall, Michael George, Jared Goodson, Devon Scott, Adam Coll, James Tofa, penalty tries; Stewart Cruden 4 con) Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 17 (James Jenkins, Paul Rakatau-Wiperi tries; Tom Stewart 2 con, pen) HT 17-17
Feilding Yellows 23 (Ben Wyness, Brad Carr, Stewart MacGregor tries; Carr 2 pen, con) Old Boys-Marist 17 (Cam Black, Will Treder tries; Hayden Hill 2 con, Aiden Champion pen) HT 18-7
Kia Toa 29 (Tobias Wickham-Manuel, Kevin Uluave, Neal Tudreu, Kalib Martin; Keaton Kawana 2 con, pen, Matt Maoate con) Freyberg 9 (Viliamu Siafua 3 pen) HT 10-9