Marist proved too strong for the visiting Ngakawau side at Noel McMillan Park on Saturday, running out 54-7 winners.
The men in Green stormed out of the blocks for four tries in the first twenty minutes to be up 26-0, with tries to hooker Liam Wiggins, lock Hector Bright, blindside flanker Liam Hewlett and centre Gilbert Fahey. Just when the home crowd thought their side might be about to run up a cricket score, the under strength visitors from the Buller played some good rugby of their own to stop the rot, and had some fine periods of attack of their own. In the 37th minute their classy second five Caleb O’Brien doted down for a richly deserved try, after bumping off several would be Marist tacklers to score to the left hand side of the posts, for his first five Nathan Thompson to convert.
Ngakawau would then have been disappointed to let Marist in again just on half time, as imposing lock Gabriel Waipouri went on a rampaging run, and when he was eventually brought down, halfback Callum Hayne went on a sniping run of his own, before his Captain and number eight Oliver Varley proved too hard to stop, as he crashed over in a couple of tackles to just force the ball on the try line, for Deans to convert to give Marist an impressive lead at the break by 33-7.
Ngakawau then got off to the worst possible start in the second half, when hot on attack and looking likely to score, Marist second five Corey Deans snaffled an intercept pass and sprinted 70 meters to dive over untouched under the cross bar, to then convert his own try to put Marist up to 40-7 after 42 minutes.
Again Ngakawau had some fine periods of play of their own, and they were cruely denied a try after their number eight and captain Ben Pratt, took the ball off the back of the scrum down the short side, and after taking out two defenders offloaded to his half back Frano Volckman, who dashed 50 meters down the right wing only to be bundled in touch inches short of the Marist line, by a desperation Maleli Mudu tackle, preventing what would have been a stunning try.
Marist then had to wait until the 65th minute for their next try, and it came from a storming run from substitute centre Hamana Peipi who made great meters after swatting off several attempted tacklers, for the ball to then be quickly recycled by Gilbert Fahey, who off loaded to first five Tom Reekie who broke free of several would be tacklers, to run 30 meters to score under the posts, for Deans to easily convert to put Marist out to a 47-7 lead.
Reekie then again had the last say in the 80th minute when he scored his second try in which he converted himself, to give Marist a deserved 54-7 victory. Ngakawau while being outclassed on the scoreboard, played some fine rugby of their own, and if they’d have been able to call up more than the 16 players who were available to travel, the score would possibly have been a lot closer, and they should take heart from the fact that their players never dropped their heads, in which their number 8 Pratt, half back Volckman, first five Thompson and second five O’Brien all had games to be proud of.
Ngakawau player/coach Nathan Thompson praised his forward pack for their strong showing, while also heaping praise on the Marist side for their fine win. “This was an enjoyable game to play, and I’d like to give credit to the Josh Costello coached Marist side for the way they played, and the spirit the match was played in”. “For us, our forwards set a solid foundation for us to try things, and that gave a great opportunity for our young backline to gain some experience against a quality opposition”, Thompson said.
Marist coach Josh Costello said his troops played well when they played as a unit and built phases in which they dominated. “We got some really good go forward from our men up front, with Gabriel Waipouri having a stand out game at lock, and prop Matt Bergman is getting better with every game, while in the backs I was impressed with first five Tom Reekie who scored two tries”. “I also wanted to pay respect to the Ngakawau coach Nathan Thompson for bringing his team down, despite being very short in numbers”, Costello said.