Club rugby season gets under way

Star's Niko Manaena and Lachlan Springford tackle Woodlands flanker Matt James during a Southland Club Rugby Premier game. Photo: Debbie Fahey

THE feature game in round two of Southland club rugby is between Marist and Woodlands. Marist had a bye last weekend and is ready to go at Miller St on Saturday.

There were perfect conditions last Saturday for the opening rounds of the competition.

Three entertaining premier division games were played, with the most interest in how last season’s wooden-spooner Blues would go against beaten division one finalist Midlands in Winton.

Blues dominated the match with the bigger and stronger ball runners, winning 53-26.

Midlands scored the first converted try and then showed a terrific attitude on defence, limiting the score to 7-all after 15 minutes.

The Blues pack provided their backline with forward momentum which was especially enjoyed by midfielder Kalepe Hola who used his bulk to burst through the much smaller defence.

Midlands’ first five-eighth Ben McKercher left the field with a shoulder injury and the half-time score was 29-7. The local supporters were nervous how the second half would play out, but Midlands scored two converted tries to close the gap to 29-19.

Blues dominated the last 20 minutes and roaming fullback Brad Kooman scored his third try. Midlands No. 8 Sam Brame and blindside Andre Watson got through plenty of work, and young fullback Te Hura Wilson impressed with his courage and skill.

Pirates Old Boys beat Eastern Northern Barbarians 36-15 at Surrey Park in Invercargill. The Barbarians scored in the first five minutes before the locals dominated the next 20 minutes, scoring four tries. Poor discipline allowed the visitors back in the game with a try and penalty goal before half-time. Trailing 26-15, Barbarians dominated possession and territory for most of the second half but the local defence was excellent.

On the few occasions the Hawks got their hands on the ball, they scored. Hawks hooker Josh Harwood was named man of the match, playmakers Greg Dyer and Issac Te Tamaki were a constant threat, while halfback Josh Murrell impressed on debut, as did loose forward Dustin Covenay. The Barbarians’ best was openside Jacob Coghlan.

In the third game, Woodlands hung on to beat Star 30-24 while Marist had the bye.

In the division one competition, a couple of the traditionally stronger clubs were tipped up by some clubs on the rise; Tokanui beat Riversdale 27-17 and Pioneer beat Te Anau 41-10.

Results – Premier: Blues 53 Midlands 26, Woodlands 30 Star 24, Pirates Old Boys 36 E N Barbarians 15. Marist a bye.

Division one: Mataura 33 Waikiwi 7, Albion 18 Collegiate 17, Pioneer 41 Te Anau 10, Tokanui 27 Riversdale 17, Edendale 42 Mossburn 15, Wyndham 21 Waikaka 13.

Division two: Riverton 69 Bush Pirates 0, Balfour Lumsden 32 Ohai Nightcaps Otautau 15, DLS 22 Waiau Star 19, Star 46 Woodlands 17, Marist 22 Bluff 20, POB 28 Wakatipu 21.

Saturday’s draw. All games 3pm unless stated otherwise – Premier Grade: Galbraith Shield; Star v Pirates Old Boys, Barbarians v Midlands, Marist v Woodlands, Blues a bye.

Division one: Te Anau v Mataura, Riversdale v Albion, Waikaka v Pioneer, Mossburn v Tokanui, Waikiwi v Wyndham, Collegiate v Edendale.

Division two: Pool A; Central Pirates v Ohai Nightcaps Otautau, Bluff v Riverton, Balfour v DLS, Pool B; Star B v POB B at 1.30pm, Marist B v Woodlands B at 1.30pm, Wakatipu a bye. Crossover game: Waiau Star v Blues B,

Women’s: Wakatipu v Albion, Blues v Pioneer, Marist a bye. Both games Sunday 1pm.

Presidents’ cup: Marist/Bluff v Waikaia, Waikaka v Pioneer, Wyndham v Mataura.

President’s trophy: Waikiwi/CP v Tokanui, Star v POB, Blues v Waikiwi, Pukerau v Collegiate.