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South Westland opens season with good win

by Julian Lee (GreyStar)

South Westland started the West Coast club rugby season well against Marist on Saturday at Harihari in a 23-8 blowout game that could have gone either way.

Two young teams went head to head against each other on what was probably the best pitch on the Coast over the weekend, and in addition South Westland’s vocal support base was no doubt one of the reasons for what turned out to be a comfortable win.

South got stuck in in the first-half coming out in full force from the first minute and putting pressure on a surprised Marist pack, who just managed to hold off conceding an early try.

Marist were upset by South Westland’s early penalty kick and eventually came back, with a full-on brawl erupting in southern territory resulting in Whataroa halfback Kip Nolan getting a yellow card.

Being a man short was enough of a morale booster for Marist, with fullback Josh Costello scoring out wide in the 20th minute. A lineout on the Marist 5m mark was not well defended, and South Westland hooker Mike Riley snatched a try to put the visitors on the backfoot Marist evened the score a little with a penalty goal to make it 11-8, but as the second half rolled around it was not enough to hold back a determined South Westland team who were quickly learning to retain possession.

Another lineout on the 5m mark resulted in Riley scoring a second try.

South Westland fullback Brent McBride and No 8 Josh Hill were prominent in the second half as they continued to put pressure on a tiring Marist side, who were managing some turnovers but finding it difficult to gain any territory.

Both sides were guilty of conceding penalties throughout the game but when Marist No 8 Ben Campbell was sin-binned for stomping, 60 minutes into the game, it seemed to seal the deal for the southerners, their back line setting up a perfect try for wing Colin Scott to settle the score at 21-8.

A conversion by No 10 Cory Deans capped it off, going on to almost score a final try against a beaten Marist who managed to hold up a half-hearted defence to prevent any further humiliation.

Up the other end of the West Coast, Grey Valley had a fairly straightforward 57-7 victory against Wests, with a well-honed team experienced from a couple of tough pre-season games.

Despite missing several key players to injuries and absences the Valley side reached half-time well ahead on 31-0, conceding a second-half try to their opponents.

Meanwhile, Blaketown just managed to beat Kiwi by a 34-29 margin in a hard fought match, which had seen Kiwi ahead at half-time. Solid work by the Blaketown forward pack saw them take the lead and hold on to it.

South Westland 23 (M Riley 2, C Scott tries; C Deans 2 pens, con); Marist 8 (J Costello try, N Smith pen);

Grey Valley 57 (N Makea 2, K Moore 2, M Bruhn 2, C Jennings, M Young, C Fitzgerald tries; K Moore 6 cons); Wests 7 (S Meldrum try, con);

Blaketown 34 (A Torrance 2, N Davy 2, T Davy tries; B Cain pen, 3 cons); Kiwi 29 (S McClure 3, I Kearns tries; S McClure 3 cons, pen).