Stoic Stoke steal it at the death
By Jonty Dine [Nelson App]
Stoke celebrated its club day in stunning style with a last gasp 35-31 victory over Nelson at Greenmeadows on Saturday.
Up 20-5 at halftime, Stoke survived a slew of injuries, a controversial red card and a brilliant Nelson comeback, to score with time up on the clock and seal a thrilling win.
Skipper Blair Prinsep says his side showed “plenty of ticker” to grind out the win which was dedicated to a teammate who lost his mother earlier in the week.
“They really took us to it in that second half, we had a bit to play for and the boys really got up in the end.”
Blair says the red card to lock Isei Lewaqai could have cost them the game, but his troops stepped up when needed.
“He’s an essential part of our team, just a silly mistake, but it was just a bit of guts that got us there.”
Both sides endured disappointing Tasman trophy campaigns and were looking to make an early statement in the sub-union competition.
Isaiah Miller was returning from a lengthy spell on the side-lines for Nelson while Chris Kerslake was running the ship at ten.
Stoke would then score the opening try on the back of a clean break by Lewaqai and a copybook draw and pass and to put Declan Smith in under the bar.
Nelson finally mounted some offence and respond through a powerful rolling maul as the returning Miller crashed over.
Injuries to both sides meant a stop start half but Stoke eventually regained its rhythm and Charlie Chambers scored to ensure a comfortable 20-5 lead at the break.
Stoke continued its surge in the second half as Lewaqai powered over off the back of a scrum to increase the advantage.
Nelson struck back soon after through the tireless Ethan Blackadder and then went back to back as sixty seconds later replacement Saul Lewis scored a scintillating try from a chip and chase.
Lewis then set up another with a perfect offload to lock Connor Rhind and Matthew Soper nailed the difficult conversion to put Nelson just a solitary point behind.
Then came what appeared to be the game's defining moment as Lewqai hammered centre Nick Foxley with a brutal hit appearing to make contact with the head.
Foxley was assisted from the field while referee Mike Lash issued the towering lock with a red card to the dismay of the home crowd.
A Nelson onslaught would ensue and after multiple phases Blackadder finally cracked the Stoke defence to take the lead with just minutes to play.
Stoke refused to die however and after turning down two simple shots at goal to square it up, replacement Dan Dwyer rumbled over with his pack to claim a famous victory.
In other results, Waimea defeated Kahurangi 36-20 and Tasman Trophy champions Marist hammered Wanderers 44-6 in Brightwater.
Stoke 35 (Chambers, Smith, Lewaqai, Dwyer tries, Smith 3 cons, 3 pens) beat Nelson 31 (Miller, Blackadder 2, Lewis, Rhind tries, Soper 3 cons)
Under-performing Marlborough sides overturn form book
By Peter Jones [Marlborough App]
Two teams who have struggled throughout the division one rugby season showed their determination to have a say in the final outcome with timely victories on Saturday.
The two lowest teams on the Marlborough sub-union table tipped over higher-ranked rivals, finding form at the right end of the season.
Bottom-placed Moutere celebrated their club day, which saw 21 Magpies teams of all shapes and sizes flock to Awarua Park, in appropriate style.
They downed East Coast 24-19 on a muddy track, the match becoming an old-fashioned arm wrestle with most of the play in the middle of the field.
The home side led 10-7 at halftime, scoring two tries to one, then took control with two converted tries soon after the break to lead 24-7.
Their ascendancy was based on a rugged forward effort, led by Matt McCormick, Aiden Gane, Luke Scott, Ruaraidh Mackessack-Leitch, Haven Walsh and lock Michael Leger-Kula, in front of inspirational halfback Ben Finau and hard-hitting midfielder Aki Kaumavae.
The Coasters, who looked a tad rusty after a three-week break, finished strongly with two late tries but were unable to bridge the gap. Impressive for the men in gold were Sam Westenra, Billy Collins, Sam Houston, Nemia Ranuku, Seymour Lambert and Stu Campbell.
East Coast look safely locked into the play-offs while their victory keeps Moutere’s slim hopes of qualifying for the sub-union semifinals alive.
Moutere head coach Laurie McGlone, who entered the fray as a second half replacement, was thrilled to pick up a victory, especially on a significant day for the historic club.
“[The win] was massive for us at the moment … we have been going through a pretty tough season but it was great to get the result on such a special day for the club.”
McGlone said his sides “game managers” were now becoming aware of what was required to get the job done.
“Ben [Finau] has been instrumental in that … coming back into the game and understanding what we are trying to do. It’s great to have the little general back and hitting some decent form now too.”
Meanwhile, at Lansdowne Park, fourth-placed Renwick accounted for second-placed Central 42-19.
The Green Machine rebounded quickly from their heart-breaking last-minute loss to Waitohi last week, scoring six tries, all converted.
Play see-sawed for most of the first spell, Renwick having the last say when first five Dion Narayan scored their third to give his side a 21-12 advantage at oranges.
Tries to replacement midfielder Mike Vaeno and lock Jaydn Holdaway stretched the Green Machine’s lead to 35-12 before Gene Simiss got one back for the Blues. A last-minute touchdown to Atu Taufa put the seal put the seal on a good afternoon for the men in green and white.
Renwick head coach Glen Blackmore was happy with his side’s defence, labelling it their best effort in that area of the season.
“We worked hard for one another, and some of our points were created out of defence, with players making good decisions.
“It was a really good game of rugby, from both teams who looked to attack throughout. It was tighter than the score suggests.
“We have picked up a lot of bonus points this season, results not going our way, but have never lacked belief … but now we have got to string a couple of victories together.”
Moutere 24 (Haven Walsh, Owen Ika, Amco Cassidy, Mesake Pahulu tries, Max Freydell 2 con) East Coast 19 (Seymour Lambert, Sam Westenra, Sione Veau tries, Myles Hamilton 2 con) HT: 10-7 Moutere.
Renwick 42 (Mike Vaeno, Atu Taufa, Cody Weir, Jaydn Holdaway, Dion Narayan, Zac Harrison-Jones tries, Kurt Schollum 2 con, Michael Dillon 2 con, Narayan 2 con) Central 19 (Daniel Van Wass, Gene Simiss, Jake Cresswell tries, Mitch Smith 2 con). HT: 21-12.
Standings (provisional): Waitohi 34, Central 29*, East Coast 26, Renwick 18*, Moutere 13*. * Still have bye to come.
In the Tasman women’s division one game played as a curtain-raiser to the men’s match at Awarua Park, Moutere were outclassed by a slick Waimea Old Boys unit. The Magpies lost 45-0, being regularly beaten to the punch at the breakdown and suffering at set piece time against a committed, well-drilled visiting pack.
The first time the sides met Moutere prevailed 40-24 but the tables were well and truly turned on Saturday.