Feilding and FOB-O prevail in second half comebacks
Second half comebacks proved the answer for both Feilding Yellows and Feilding Old Boys-Oroua as they booked their places for a first all-Feilding finals match-up to decide the winner of the Hankins Shield.
With finals for the Hankins Shield only starting in 1980, Feilding has never met Feilding Old Boys-Oroua, or either club before they merged, in the big dance.
In Saturday’s semifinals, Yellows beat Varsity 38-19 at Johnston Park after trailing 14-12 at the break, while FOB-Oroua came back from a 17-5 deficit at the break to beat Kia Toa 31-17 at Kimbolton.
Making Yellows’ second half effort even more impressive was that they pulled it off without star first five-eighth Ben Wyness, who left the filed in an ambulance early in the second half with what looked to be a serious ankle injury.
In the first half, playing into a stiff wind, Feilding struggled to find their rhythm.
An early try to Luck Funaki was quickly nullified when Hamish Northcott made a huge break from within his own 22 to set up a try for Nick Birchfield.
Feilding took the lead back through Sean Rankin, who went over the top of the ruck to dot down.
Michael Halatuituia helped put Varsity back in front, but Yellows had plenty of opportunities to take the lead into the break.
They turned down a shot at goal on halftime, but after a couple of charges for the line, Rankin knocked the ball on.
Early in the second half, things appeared to be heading Varsity’s way.
With Wyness off injured, Mickey Woolliams and Kirk Tufuga got stuck into the breakdown.
But they kept making mistakes at crucial times and lacked the fire-power out wide to punish Yellows with a counter attack.
With the wind at their backs, Feilding took advantage constantly clearing the ball with Griffin Culver standing out with his accuracy.
Eventually they bagged a crucial try through Hayden Stratford that put them into the lead and appeared to break the spirit of Varsity.
By the time Sam Wasley burst over from the back of a scrum, the game was as good as won for Yellows.
Rankin claimed a second try to put the game beyond doubt.
But Varsity made a final ditch come-back attempt with Cody Hemi scoring down the right wing.
Ultimately it was Yellows’ day with Rankin scoring on fulltime and Brad Carr fittingly kicking the final conversion to wrap up the match.
Feilding Old Boys-Oroua turned on the pressure in the second half to wipe Kia Toa off the field.
The Stags turned to their maul to take control of the game and were aided by a constant wave of Kia Toa penalties.
Despite trailing by 12 points at halftime, the Stags always looked capable to running down the double blues.
Kia Toa spent 20 minutes of the match down to 14 men with Atu Henare yellow carded late in the first half for repeated infringements and then Fraser Stone yellow carded for striking mid-way through the second half.
Their scrum fell to pieces in the second half and their lineouts never worked well all match.
Feilding Old Boys-Oroua crushed Kia Toa in the forward pack.
Three of the Stags’ tries came from rolling mauls.
Kia Toa had no answer and with the a malfunctioning set piece and the penalties not easing up, they never looked likely of staging a late comeback.
In the Val Holland playoffs, College Old Boys cruised to a 34-12 win over Linton Army.
They scored five tries and picked up a penalty try, but goal kicking remains an issue for them with just one conversion for the match.
Old Boys-Marist hammered Te Kawau 41-10.
First five-eighth Sam Bergeson scored 21 points.
Feilding Yellows 38 (Sean Rankin 3, Lucks Funaki, Sam Wasley, Hayden Stratford tries; Brad Carr 3 con, Ben Wyness con) Varsity 19 (Nick Birchfield, Michael Halatuituia, Cody Hemi tries; Scott Davidson 2 con) HT 14-12 Varsity
Feilding Old Boys-Oroua 31 (Jamie Perigo 2, Amon Panikoula, Max Fryatt, Simon Goss tries; Paora Rakatau 3 con) Kia Toa 17 (Jackson Iose, Jono Ihaka tries; Jade Te Rure 2 con, pen) HT 17-5 Kia Toa
Old Boys-Marist 41 (Sam Bergeson 3, Luther Hirini 2, Brad Tucker, Blair Hannam; Sam Bergeson 3 con) Te Kawau 10 (Shay Ashworth 2 tries)
College Old Boys 34 (Brice Henderson 2, Jared Goodson, Bryce Grant, Patrick Tafili-Reid, penalty tries; James Durston con) Linton Army 12 (2 tries, con)