Wanderers 21 Waimea OB 18
Wanderers have clearly got spirit.
They were reduced to 14 men for much of Saturday's Car Company Nelson Bays division one rugby clash with Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys at Brightwater. And they spent around 20 minutes with just 13 players after flankers Loa Windley and Alex Ainley were sin-binned in separate incidents each side of halftime.
It was inconceivable then that they could overcome an in-form Waimea side determined to finish the round unbeaten. But they did, Taylors Contracting Wanderers producing a confident and passionate second half performance to secure a staggering 21-18 win and with it, the Moller Cup for first round honours.
Their narrow winning margin left the two previously unbeaten teams tied on 14 points but with a game in hand, Wanderers' win was enough to secure them the silverware.
There was an ugly side to Wanderers' win though, as indiscipline constantly had the team pressing the boundaries.
Referee Hadley Peterson went to his pocket four times during the match. Besides yellow cards to Windley and Ainley, new prop Siua Halanukunuku was also shown a red card 17 minutes into the first half for a lifting tackle. It came just two minutes after a try to Wanderers No 8 Lealoha Musika from an attacking lineout drive was ruled out when Windley was binned for punching in the subsequent in-goal melee.
Under normal circumstances, Waimea might have made Wanderers pay severely for their indiscretions. But after kicking 21 points in a near faultless display in the previous week's win over Galbraith Group Nelson, Waimea midfielder Billy Guyton could barely buy a kick on Saturday. He missed six of nine attempts at goal, several from handy positions, as Wanderers continued to ride their luck.
Guyton had also thrown the pass that saw Wanderers' wing Kerehama Barrett scamper 50m from the resulting intercept to help give Wanderers a slender 7-5 lead at the break. Halfback Kaide Whiting had scored earlier for Waimea after a strong run by flanker Dan Hytongue.
Hytongue scored himself 11 minutes into the second half, slamming the ball down between the posts following a superb counterattacking movement featuring fullback James Lowe and Guyton.
And with Guyton finally finding some range with his boot, Waimea's handy 18-7 lead suggested Wanderers were finally starting to pay for their indiscretions.
Yet it was Wanderers who finished the strongest, the depleted home team raising their intensity and throwing everything into attack over the final quarter as further tries to impressive first five-eighth Jesse Pitman and finally to halfback Jackson Harvey eventually sealed a remarkable win. Significantly, both tries were scored with Hytongue also languishing in the sin-bin.
Guyton still had one last chance to at least secure a draw. Predictably though, he missed.
Kahurangi 24 Nelson 3
Kahurangi are finally celebrating the first win of their brief existence after scoring a bonus-point victory over Nelson at Trafalgar Park.
While still well short of the finished product, Kahurangi finally began to eliminate some of the attacking errors that had plagued their previous two outings. The result was four unanswered tries, two in each half, as a predictable Nelson attack failed to register against a typically rugged Kahurangi defence.
Nelson's only points came from a first-half penalty success to second five-eighth David Havili. Otherwise, Kahurangi called all the meaningful attacking shots after first-half tries to halfback Dan Smart and wing Lote Niue saw them take a deserved 12-3 lead into the break.
Smart added a second try after the restart and with fullback Craig Sneddon also scoring, Kahurangi steadily began to distance themselves on the scoreboard.
Nelson appeared to score twice but were denied by forward passes, their backs lacking any cohesion or ingenuity as Kahurangi defenders continued to set the tone for the contest.
Nelson's forwards were again competitive, their set phases operating effectively and providing enough possession for their backs. Nelson's lack of execution further out negated their efforts.
Shane Grieve and Mitchell Thwaites were again central figures in Nelson's forward effort, while Havili also showed his admirable skill set with a clever chip and chase that almost resulted in him crossing in the corner.
Again, it was a measure of Kahurangi's defensive commitment that Havili was denied, Kahurangi now having conceded just two tries in three games.
Loosies Dan Crowther, Hana Corbett-Burrows and Sione Motuapa epitomised Kahurangi's efforts which the backs, this time, were able to exploit