Sat, Jun 22, 2024 6:52 PM

Kahurangi stamp semi-final ticket


Jack Malcolm

While Willie Havili’s class was never in question, it got another big endorsement as he and Kahurangi punched their ticket to the semi-finals with a win over Marist.

Starting in the 15 jersey, Willie involved himself in almost everything as his team ran away with a 28-18 win despite miserable conditions at Sports Park.

In other results of the penultimate round of the regular season, Waimea Old Boys set up a winner-takes-all game with Marist next Friday without taking the park after Moutere defaulted, while Central have rediscovered their dominance with a 71-21 win over Stoke (report below).

The women’s Tasman Trophy competition saw Moutere put up a brave effort against the table-topping Marist side at Awarua Park before going down 22-11, while Kahurangi were too strong for Waimea Old Boys, 41-17.

While the rain did clear in Motueka, it left behind muddy conditions that saw both teams content to play for territory as wet weather rugby was the name of the game.

Willie’s boot was instrumental, being a decisive weapon as he kept Marist pinned in their half with a superior kicking game.

He was also instrumental when his team were on attack, setting up all three Kahurangi tries with evasive ball running to create the spark.

The first, gliding down the left-hand sideline and beating his man to put Stein Schreiber into space to score in the corner. The second was almost identical, except down the opposite sideline and with an inside ball to loose forward Hunter Leppien.

The third and final try saw him step through traffic amidst broken play before delivering Stein his second of the day on a silver platter.

Willie also got points on the board, drop-kicking it from 40 metres out from a free kick to end the first half.

Despite the win going Kahurangi’s way, there is still work to be done as Marist exposed some of their vulnerabilities.

Particularly at scrum time, where Marist’s dominance was evident as they continuously disintegrated the opposing forward pack to the point Kahurangi took the lineout when given an option.

But despite that dominance in the forwards from Marist, they weren’t able to play the game their way as large portions of the action saw the backs playing force back and making the big boys put in the hard yards.

The win sees Kahurangi solidify a home semi-final, sitting atop the points table ahead of a final round-robin match against Nelson next weekend.

With 46 competition points, they are guaranteed the top spot with Central just behind on 44 points but unable to earn anymore with a bye to end their regular season.

Stoke have also booked their semi-final spot on 37 points, leaving Marist and Waimea OB the final two teams in the hunt and set to face each other in the final round.

With Marist on 31 and Waimea OB on 33, a four-point win would swing the tide to the victor's side in what has essentially become a quarter-final.

Taine Robinson leads the chasing pack as Stoke's six-game winning streak was broken by Central. Photo: Peter Jones. 

Stoke v Central

via Peter Jones.

Central’s premier rugby side booked themselves a home Tasman Trophy semifinal with a commanding performance at Lansdowne Park today.

Their opponents Stoke, arrived in Blenheim on the back of a six-match winning streak and were expected to test the Blues right across the park.

However, the home side, their sight firmly set on a trophy “three-peat”, made no race of it. Their scrum monstered the Stoke eight, they were more aggressive at the breakdown, carried and cleaned superbly and were generally clinical when it came to finishing.

Central scored 11 tries, eight of which were converted by returning first five Mitch Smith.

In the early stages, whenever they found themselves within striking distance of the Stoke line, they pounced. No 8 Jessie MacDonald, who is enjoying a stand-out season, opened the scoring, prop Sione Papani added a second five minutes later, then centre Jake Cresswell, who bagged a brace crossed on the 15minute mark to lay down a marker.

However, Stoke fought back, inspired by playmaker Taine Robinson who converted his own try to remind Central of the visitors’ scoring potential. Cresswell added a second, then Robinson bagged his brace just prior to halftime, sending the teams into the break at 33-14.

It took only three minutes after the break for the Blues to re-establish supremacy, loosie Braden Stewart, this week named in the 2024 Mako squad, touching down.

Stoke scored their third, through lock Tim Dallison before normal service was resumed, winger Koloa Fotu getting over in the corner.

If the rising scoreline was not enough for the visitors to worry about, midway through the second spell Central introduced the man known as “The Difference”, blockbusting Highlanders’ winger Timoci Tavatavanawai, into the game.

As usual his impact was immediate, setting up a try for halfback Ethan Jones, while his powerful carries tested the Stoke defence right across the field.

Further touchdowns to Quentin MacDonald, replacement Owen Ika and fullback Logan Murphy completed the scoring, with Stoke, who suffered through injuries to their back division throughout the match, struggling to keep up with the home side’s fast-paced game.

Although a few individuals stood out, this was a complete team effort from the Blues, the whole side laying down a marker for their rivals.

They have a bye in next week’s final round but are assured of second place on the table, booking a home semifinal, where they will meet either Stoke, again, or Waimea Old Boys.

The news for the other Marlborough side in the competition was not so positive. Moutere were forced to default their scheduled match against Waimea Old Boys in Nelson due to lack of player numbers.

Points: Kahurangi 47, Central 44, Stoke 37, Waimea OB 33, Marist 31, Moutere 7, Nelson -1. NOTE: Central have now played 12 matches, the others just 11.

Points: Marist 35, Kahurangi 22, Waimea OB 10, Moutere 10

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