by Tui Bromley greystar.co.nz
Blaketown is back at the top of the West Coast rugby tree after beating Kiwi 20-3 in the Taylorville-Wallsend Cup grand final played on a wet and windy Rugby Park, on Saturday.
The seagulls now have the companion for the New Forrest Cup in the trophy cabinet.
With Alan Monk climbing high, Blaketown easily won their own line-outs and also claimed the first five of Kiwi’s throws to almost totally deny the visitors of ball in the first half.
The scraps that Kiwi did win were used to kick for territory, the blue backline not being trusted with the ball until late in the piece, by which time the cause was already lost.
In the real action, Blaketown’s winning margin could have been larger. Robert Thomson, Regan Stanton, Monk, Brad Houston (two tries), Luke Negri and Nik Cumming all made scything runs, which had Kiwi in all sorts of bother and the boys in blue were hanging on by the skin of their teeth for most of the match. It is testament to their defensive will that both Blaketown tries came late in each half.
In the tight, Gordon Iafeta, Monk and Adam Torrance and Brogan Watt carted the ball forward powerfully for Blaketown.
Kiwi, with No 8 Logan Winter, skipper Troy Tauwhare, lock Tim Scadden and flanker Matthew Olson to the fore, tackled themselves to a standstill, but Blaketown’s wealth of possession told in the end.
Second-five Sean McClure and centre Peter Te Rakau each made a couple of telling breaks, but overall the Kiwi backline failed to fire on a day where little went right for them.
Blaketown had first chance to post points when Winter was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle, but Phil Thomson missed the relatively easy penalty kick and Kiwi, against the run of play, almost scored when McClure kept a loose ball at the toe but, with the line in sight and Te Rakau on his shoulder, slowed down to pick the ball up and spilled it forward in the slide to the line.
Todd Struthers did knock over a penalty soon after but Thomson levelled the scores with a penalty when a defender was deemed to have deliberately knocked down a pass after a sweeping Stanton break looked likely to earn a try, 3-3.
A Beau Cain break down the sideline also almost earned a try, the wing just beaten to a touchdown after the ball had been kicked ahead, but another clean break, this one to Cumming, ended with a penalty near the Kiwi line, allowing Houston to score from a quick tap. Thomson added the extras to put his side up 10-3 at the break.
Kiwi’s only other chance, a long-range Struthers penalty, bounced back off a post.
The second half was a mirror image of the first, with Blaketown totally dominating possession and Kiwi struggling to get over the halfway line.
With Houston and Watt both being held up over the line Kiwi successfully defended four 5m scrums before Phil Thomson kicked his second penalty, and another string of scrums on the Kiwi line eventually led to a second Houston try, which Phil Thomson again converted for the final score of 20-3, leaving Blaketown to celebrate a second grand final win in three years and Kiwi to lament a second season that promised much but ended in disappointment.