Yellows claim Hankins Shield
Feilding Yellows survived a heart-stopping final five minutes to claim the Hankins Shield 16-14 over Varsity at Central Energy Trust Arena on Saturday.
A try to replacement Varsity wing TamaToa Ropati three minutes into referee’s time gave Varsity a chance to stretch the game into overtime, but Scott Davidson’s sideline conversion into the wind fell short.
Yellows had looked to have the match sewn up much earlier, but they never managed to land the knock-out punch leaving the door ajar for Varsity.
The Sky Blues, much like the way they surged into the final after their season had looked to be over mid-way through the second round, showed plenty of heart as they kept the game alive.
But ultimately, Yellows were the deserving winners having controlled the game from early on.
Their leaders stood up with Hayden Stratford, Sean Rankin, Nick Crosswell and Ben Wyness leading the way.
Wyness, who missed last year’s final with a broken leg, proved key scoring Yellows’ sole try early in the second half with a jinking run and landing a dropped goal late in the first half to give his side a 10-6 lead at the break.
The battle was tight with the Yellows forwards just getting the upper hand on the Varsity pack, who proved to be a nuisance at the breakdown.
Varsity lost lock Tom Hughes early in the first half leaving locking partner Mickey Woolliams, still clearly suffering the effects of Wednesday’s ankle injury, to play the full 80 minutes.
Woolliams’ brave display, along with Kirk Tufuga, Ueta Tufuga and Korie Winters, was the best for Varsity.
Varsity started the match with the wind at their backs and immediately captialised with a penalty in the third minute to Nick Birchfield.
But they rarely managed to venture back into the 22.
Wyness’ try in the 16th minute opened the scoring for Yellows, but Birchfield landed a second penalty to keep them in the match.
Heading into the break, Yellows were well worth their four-point lead and had the wind at their backs in the second half.
Brad Carr and Birchfield traded penalties to leave the score at 13-9 15 minutes into the second half.
From there, Birchfield was replaced by Davidson, who struggled to get into the game.
Carr kicked a second penalty in the 63rd minute to push Yellows seven points clear.
It looked like Yellows would lock up the match from there, but they never managed to land the knock-out blow.
Carr had a chance to secure the match with three minutes to play, but his 40m penalty drifted to the right of the posts, with Varsity capitalising on their chance and coming agonisingly close to extra time.
The Val Holland Trophy was all one-way traffic as Feilding Old Boys-Oroua blasted Kia Toa for a 57-17 win.
Neither team had wanted to be battling for the Val Holland, but FOB-Oroua proved more eager to take home some consolation having missed a chance to defend the Hankins Shield.
Hamish Bennett picked up four tries in a man-of-the-match performance.
Feilding Yellows 16 (Ben Wyness try; Carr 2 pen, con; Wyness dropped goal) Varsity 14 (TamaToa Ropati try; Nick Birchfield 3 pen) HT: 10-6
Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 57 (Hamish Bennett 4, Blair Osborne 2, Zyon Hekenui 2, Junior Laloifi tries; Shai Wiperi 4 con, Ollie Brosnahan 2 con) Kia Toa 17 (Michael Lockwood, Keaton Kawana, Tevita Fehoko tries; Kawana con) HT 26-7