South, defying driving rain, the odd lightning flash, and a water logged Hokitika field, gave North a lesson in running rugby on the way to a 46-5 Dittman Shield rugby victory on Saturday.
Cass Square, with thunder rumbling overhead, was no place for the faint hearted but South’s backline, marshalled well by first-five Nathan Smith and also comprising Jarrod Ferguson, Sean McClure, Brett McBride, Elijah Matalomani, June Kitara and Logan Ross, made light work of the conditions, throwing the greasy ball around with gay abandon and splashing through the puddles to run in several long range tries which would have done justice to a hard, fast track.
However, disinterest from the Greymouth sector had made their job easier for the southerners and robbed the clash of much of its lustre.
Coach Andy MacKenzie said a strong North squad had been selected for the match but in the end just 13 players assembled at the Paroa Hotel for the trek to Hokitika. Some hasty phone calls boosted the numbers to 15 but that was never going to be enough to be competitive and, predictably, injuries took their toll, reducing the North team back to 13.
The casualties included coach MacKenzie, who had been forced to don the boots for the first time in seven years, for the last quarter of the game. MacKenzie said the squad first selected would have been competitive, and he questioned the timing of the fixture, saying that most players were looking for a break by the time Queen’s Birthday came around.
South No 8 Eroni Uliborutu made the transformation from backs to forwards seamlessly leading a strong forward pack along with flanker Josh Hill, while North’s Alan Monk, Sean Loveday and James Winter tried their best to stem the flow of points.
Tries to McBride, Kitara, David Oates and Smith (one, converted) gave South a 22-0 half-time lead while Matalomani, Ross, Ulioborulu and Nathan Cook dotted down in the second spell. No 8 Brogan Watt scored North’s consolation try.
By Tui Bromley – GreyStar.co.nz