Midlands, Star both seek first win in premier grade

Te Anau Earthworks Division 1 rugby team held on to win 19-15 against Mataura at home last Saturday. Te Anau scored three tries to two, and managed to hold off Mataura hammering on the goal line late in the second half of the round 2 match. Te Anau Rugby Club president Nathan Botting said, with players moving elsewhere, the team lost its whole backline from last season and the club decided not to move up to the Premier division. This Saturday, Te Anau has a home game against Collegiate at 3pm. Photo: Julie Walls

THE feature game in round 3 of the Southland premier club rugby competition is between Star and Midlands at Limehills tonight. Both sides are looking for their first win of the season.

The two unbeaten teams, Pirates Old Boys and Marist, will square up at Surrey Park on Saturday. Marist tipped over the Galbraith Shield holder Woodlands, 27-22, at Miller St last weekend.

Two of the province’s better scrummagers, Shaun Stoddart and Rueben Northover, were unavailable for Marist last week and unfortunately the club only had two premier grade props to start the game. When Tangaroa Walker was taken to hospital with an ankle injury after 10 minutes, the scrums went to

Marist coach Marty Smith said it was a battle. “We were down to 13 men at one stage from penalty infringements, but we scored two tries with those two in the bin. Although we let in 22 points, our defence was good, especially on our line.”

Smith said it was one of the better wins he’d been involved in. “We had four or five Stags players missing and four or five players making their debuts, the boys overcame some adversity and stood up for each other. It was a satisfying performance and it will set us up well for the season.”

No 8 Liam Ody-Johns was the game’s best; his huge defence included some try-saving tackles and he carried the ball strongly. Ody-Johns has recently moved south from Hawke’s Bay. Marist wing Keanu Kahukura was the standout, while hooker Flynn Thomas was a big help when he came on for the last 30 minutes.

Pirates Old Boys earned a tough 18-14 win over Star at Waverly Park. The Hawks showed plenty of character to win the match after a disrupted preparation and having four front rowers unavailable for various reasons. The Hawks called on Liam and Keenan Bakker from the club’s B team to fill the jerseys. The brothers were playing in their first premier grade game together and it was also Keenan’s first game at hooker. Keenan is usually a prop and adapted well, while Liam is usually a flanker and did a great job at prop on Saturday.

Star started the match with the wind at its back and used most of the possession at the right end of the field to build a 14-point lead. Just before half-time, the Hawks scored a try through wing Kepu Suli.

As injuries took their toll, the Hawks’ 41-year-old battler Regan Johns came off the bench with 25 minutes remaining. Such was the makeshift forward pack, the locks had a turn throwing the ball in the lineout.

Greg Dyer and lock Craig Smith scored tries for the Hawks, and while Dyer missed all the conversions, he did land a vital penalty goal. Star was relentless in its attack during the last 10 minutes but the Hawks defence was outstanding.

Co-coach Ben McHugh said at half-time, ‘‘We just asked the lads to go to work hard for the next 40 minutes and they certainly did.

“We continued to get injuries but the boys just gutsed it out; it’s absolutely the gutsiest performance I ever coached. Mike (McKenzie) and I are very proud of the lads.”

Hawkes halfback Josh Murrell was player of day and prop Lennon Gaven had a heroic match, unfortunately Gaven dislocated his shoulder in the last play of the game. Suli had a big game on the wing, while the club’s Stags reps Dyer, Issac Te Tamaki and Smith were again vital.

In the third game, the Eastern Northern Barbarians beat Midlands 28-7 at the Gore Showgrounds after leading 14-nil at half-time. Blues had a bye this week.

In the division 1 competition, Tokanui earned a 21-nil win in Mossburn, while in division 2, DLS is in good form for the Drummond Centenary this Saturday after beating Balfour 33-13. Riverton beat fellow sea-siders Bluff 19-15 after trailing 10-5 at half time.

Results — Premier: Barbarians 28 Midlands 7, Star 14 Pirates Old Boys 18, Marist 27 Woodlands 22.

Division 1: Waikiwi 0 Wyndham 42, Te Anau 19 Mataura 15, Waikaka 41 Pioneer 15, Mossburn 0 Tokanui 21, Collegiate 0 Edendale 33, Riversdale 35 Albion 5.

Division 2: Bush Pirates 5 Ohai Nightcaps/Otautau 15, Balfour Lumsden 13 DLS 33, Waiau Star 21 Blues B 12, Star 41 Pirates Old Boys 8, Marist 22 Woodlands 7, Bluff 15 Riverton 19.

Saturday’s draw. All games 3pm unless stated otherwise:

Premier — Galbraith Shield: Midlands v Star at Limehills, Thursday, 7.15pm, Pirates Old Boys v Marist, Blues v Barbarians, Woodlands a bye.

Division 1: Te Anau v Collegiate, Wyndham v Albion, Waikaka v Waikiwi, Mossburn v Riversdale, Mataura v Tokanui, Edendale v Pioneer.

Division 2 Pool A: DLS v Central Pirates at Drummond, 2pm, Ohai Nightcaps Otautau v Bluff at Nightcaps, Balfour v Waiau Star.

Pool B: POB B v Marist B, 1.30pm, Blues B v Wakatipu, Star B a bye. Crossover game: Riverton v Woodlands B.

Women’s: Marist v Pioneer, Sunday, 1pm.

President’s Cup: Pioneer v Marist/Bluff, Mataura v Waikaia, Waikaka v Wyndham. All games at 1.30pm.

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