by Julian Lee – GreyStar ( 21/05/2013)
Kiwi’s 22-18 victory over South Westland on Saturday, at Whataroa, was only by a fine whisker, Kiwi were certainly holding their breath until the very last second of the match.
South Westland’s traditional team spirit and ‘x-factor’ were not enough to overcome Kiwi’s classic consistency and well-rounded play.
But what a game! South Westland started with a characteristic strong offensive right from the whistle. Kiwi seemed to know their rivals always started strong, but were not able to absorb it. Cheeky South Westland halfback Kip Nolan nipped out the ball from the back of a scrum near their tryline and scored a try in the sixth minute.
For the first half, South Westland were dominating in the scrums, lineouts and often the rucks, leaving Kiwi feeling frustrated and making them lose territory. But Kiwi’s strong backline soon revved its engine, turning South Westland’s momentum back on themselves and forcing them to rely on fullback Cory Dean’s right foot to get them out of trouble.
But a nice combination play by Kiwi first-five Sam McClure and tighthead Dylan Thompson set up halfback Jared Ferguson for a try Thompson could easily have taken the try himself, but Kiwi has always valued the team over the individual.
South Westland soon came back, with Deans grabbing two penalty kicks in the last 10 minutes to put the fear into Kiwi. But just when the southerners looked ready to take another try, Kiwi roared back and hooker Troy Tauwhare scored a try, putting the half-time score at 13-12 to South Westland.
The south boys started the second half with another offensive but this time it seemed Kiwi were ready. Another strong counter-offensive by Kiwi’s backline saw Ferguson score his second try of the game four minutes into the half.
A few minutes later Kiwi were upset when their second-five Mitch Brown was sent off for foul language, which devastated the side given Brown’s strong performance that game. South Westland grabbed the opportunity and drove Kiwi to the tryline, but Kiwi managed to hold off the attack for 10 minutes, despite constant pressure.
Despite valiant Kiwi efforts, South Westland flanker Ryan Walker was the one to sneak through in the 60th minute and score the try, putting the south ahead 18-17.
It then seemed all the effort the southerners had put into Walker’s try had sapped their energy, because they immediately gave in against an angry Kiwi, who took yards and yards of easily defended territory. Brown, who was now back on the pitch, had an excellent run. Soon fullback Dan Tauwhare was on the ball, and then offloaded it to winger Dale Green to score a try with 10 minutes to go.
South Westland desperately tried to come back and get the try that would have put them ahead by one point, and in the very last play of the game Deans ran the ball down the paddock and offloaded it to winger Colin Scott, but Kiwi did not give him enough room to get through and all was lost. South Westland’s record of almost winning every game they have played this season was set in stone.
Up at Greymouth, Blaketown managed an easy 57-12 victory over Wests, with top competition scorer Beau Cain managing 17 points with a try and six conversions. This keeps Blaketown comfortably ahead of the pack for aggregate season points so far, and helps them out on the Muir Trophy table, where they have been languishing at third place.
Meanwhile, Grey Valley secured a comfortable 42-24 win over urban rivals Marist, with valley stalwart Dave Crouchley scoring a hat-trick. This should upset any Marist designs on working their way up the table.
Kiwi 22 (J Ferguson 2, D Green, T Tauwhare tries; S McClure con)
South Westland 18 (C Nolan, R Walker tries; C Deans 2 pens, con)
Blaketown 57 (P Thomson 2, T Davy 2, M Funaki 2, N Davy, B Jackson, B Cain tries; B Cain 6 cons)
Wests 12 (N Monk, M Slaven tries; S Meldrum con);
Grey Valley 42 (D Crouchley 3, B Mirfin 2, K Moore, C Jennings, T Priest tries; T Priest con)
Marist 24 (J Costello 3, H Mahuika tries; J Costello 2 cons).