By Tui Bromley – GreyStar.co.nz
In a see-sawing encounter on Saturday, a late Sam Tau try carried Marist to a 24-20 win over Kiwi in West Coast senior rugby.
In other matches, the Wests Rugby Club celebrated the end of a 30-month drought after a surprise 20-16 victory over South Westland, at Hokitika, while the defensive woes of the hapless 2014 champion, Grey Valley, were again evident at McLean Park, Blaketown running in 14 tries in a 99-3 victory.
Marist and Kiwi enjoyed perfect conditions for rugby at Arthur Fong Park and referee Mark Cowlin did his best to ensure it was a free-flowing encounter.
The match was 15 minutes old before Cowlin called his first penalty but the obvious animosity between the two camps ensured that the referee was kept busy keeping the lid on the boiling tensions for the remainder of the match.
Marist halfback Hugo Torres produced a classy display, scoring a try and adding a penalty and three conversions, while the busy Tau, always in the thick of things, was the pick of the green pack.
Troy Tauwhare, wearing No 8 but packing down in most of the scrums at hooker, had a strong game for Kiwi, along with the two flankers, Fayne Wilson and Matt Olsen. Halfback Jarrod Ferguson lost nothing in comparison with Torres.
Marist went straight on the attack, Kiwi making several charges on the line before Torres crossed under the bar and then chipped over the conversion.
Kiwi retaliated with concerted pressure of its own but all they could muster from long periods of attack was a Todd Struthers penalty, which closed the gap to 7-3 at the 20-minute mark.
Struthers missed another penalty on the stroke of half-time but he added the extras to put his side up 10-7 after his pack rumbled over the Marist line in a rolling maul from a lineout, lock Chad Andrews getting credited with the try.
Kiwi then stretched the lead to 17-7 when wing Arnold Wilson latched on to a Dan Tauwhare grubber kick and dashed 40m to score under the posts; Struthers adding the extras.
Torres and Struthers then swapped penalties (20-10) before a late Marist surge brought a fine solo try to Brad Lewellen, converted by Torres, closed the gap to 20-17. Tau’s late try came after the greens hammered the Kiwi line for five minutes and Torres capped a perfect kicking game with another conversion.
There was still time left for Kiwi to regain the lead and they went close to scoring a late match-winner, but desperate Marist defence kept them out.
Fresh from an 87-0 victory over 2014 champion Grey Valley, South Westland were cock-a-hoop about their chances of again imposing their might on Wests, but the smaller and more feisty opposition had a different idea of how the game should evolve.
Wests coach Dicey Davidson said his team “brought Cass Square alight” with a come-from-behind victory, after South Westland led 13-5 at the break.
“It has been a long time coming. It’s two and a half years since we won a competition match and the win has arrived just at the right time for this group,”Davidson said.
“We knew that we were still in the hunt at half-time and were confident that if we stuck to our game plan we could win.”
Davidson said No 8 Sean Meldrum was impressive off the back of a retreating scrum, regularly fighting his way over the advantage line, and flanker Marty Tootle led by example.
The coach was loathe to sort any others out for praise “because it was a total team effort”.
Little wing Elijah Matalomani scored twice, fullback Logan Ross got the other try and Nathan Smith kicked a penalty and a conversion to complete Wests’ scoring.
South Westland co-coach Rob Wilson said a combination of complacency on his team’s part, coupled with Wests’ greater commitment, brought about the shock result.
“We probably took them a little too lightly, but hats off to Wests, they got stuck into us and deserved the win, we have no excuses,” Wilson said.
First-five Corey Deans and centre Nathan Blackburn shone in the backs, while lock Blair Jenkins was South Westland’s best forward. Both camps were again singing the praises of referee Robbie Maitland who let the game flow.
Deans, scoring twice and kicking two penalties, got all his team’s points.
Grey Valley had no answer to the direct running of Blaketown’s backs, conceding 45 points in the first half and another 54 after the break.
Brad Houston scored five tries, while others went to Regan Stanton 3, Alan Monk 2, Phil Thompson, Robert Thompson, Kevin Curtis and Lucas Davy. Beau Cain added 12 conversions.
Centre Kevin Moore kicked a penalty for Grey Valley and did his best to shore up the backline but there were plenty of holes on either side of him for Blaketown’s powerful ball runners to exploit.
|B.Lewellyn (1 T)||H.Wilson (1 T)|
|S.Tau (1 T)||C.Andrew (1 T)|
|H.Torres (1 T),(1 Pen.),(3 Convs.)||T.Struthers (2 Pen.), (2 Convs.)|
|E.Matalomani (2 T)||C.Deans (2 T), (2 Pen.)|
|L.Ross (1 T)|
|N.Smith (1 Pen.), (1 Convs.)|
|R.Thomson (1 T)||K.Moore (1 Pen.)|
|L.Davy (1 T)|
|R.Stanton (4 T)|
|K.Curtis (1 T)|
|P.Thomson (1 T)|
|A Monk (2 T)|
|B.Houston (5 T)|
|B.Canin (12 Convs.)|