Premiers walk tall after Gallaher Shield victory

After a seven year absence the prized trophy of the Auckland club rugby competition, the Gallaher Shield, has returned home to Western Springs stadium.

Superbly led by their captain Aleks Dabek, the young Ponsonby side masterfully constructed a clinical and assured performance when they defeated University at Eden Park on Saturday by 35-23. Ponsonby led by 17-13 at the halftime break, outscoring their opposites by four tries to three, coupled with another outstanding goal kicking display by John Cooper who personally contributed 20 points, and was successful with six from seven attempts at goal.

Saturday's match was the fitting finale to what has been a wonderful season for this team, and despite a couple of blemishes on this year's record they have played some remarkable rugby and collected all but one of the trophies in the Auckland club competition. Safely tucked away at Western Springs stadium until the 2019 season is the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup, the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield and now the Gallaher Shield. And along the way this side collected the Tom Johns Memorial Cup, the Kohlase Cup, the Anton Begovich Cup and the Pita Fatialofa Memorial Cup, what is an impressive collection of silverware.

The Ponsonby club has now won the Auckland club competition on a record 46 occasions since it's inception in 1883, significantly more than the next side with 17 wins, University. Additionally Ponsonby now boasts 34 Gallaher Shield victories since 1922, the next rival being University with 14.

Every Ponsonby shield victory has been special, but this one in particular will be long remembered as one that featured passion, culture and commitment from a star team, and each player showed the desire to do the jersey and their team mates proud.

The game had all the ingredients that one would have expected from a finale, with both teams giving it their all. Ponsonby, led by their dynamic loose forward trio – Dabek, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, and man of the match Taina Fox-Matamua, were brutal on defence and dominant in the exchanges. The foundation for the victory was laid upfront which left the backline, directed by Rocky Khan, with quality ball for attacking options. Ponsonby dissected their opponents skilfully and with sheer precision. University have been one of the toughest offensive teams in this year’s competition and have caused havoc to the defence of many.

The blue and blacks started strongly and applied pressure to their opponents from the first lineout of the match. Jamie Lane stole a University feed on the halfway mark, and some excellent work by Freedom Vaha’akalo and Patrick Tausie freed Cooper to cross for the opening try.

University bounced back, aided by a series of penalties in their favour. Initially with a penalty goal from their halfback Brenton Helleur, then a try under the posts by lock Hamish Munro, which was converted by Helleur.

Ponsonby responded with a magnificent try soon after. Another University lineout steal by Lane saw the blue and blacks attack. The backs moved the ball across the field, initially to the right, and then back left. With the students unable to halt the Ponsonby move, Riedlinger-Kapa found a gap and raced to the line. The Cooper conversion put Ponsonby back in front at 14-10.

In the last ten minutes of the half Helleur goaled a handy penalty for his side, and almost straight away Cooper responded to for Ponsonby, seeing Ponsonby go to the break ahead at 17-13.

In the opening minutes of the second spell University set up camp close to the Ponsonby line, but the blue and black’s defence was resolute. A knock on by the students allowed Ponsonby to clear, but the touch finder did not achieve the desired result. University then found a way to the line, their flanker Angus Duckett crossing. The conversion was unsuccessful, but University had edged ahead at 18-17.

Ponsonby’s third try was scored from a magnificent Fox-Matamua break, creating a yawning gap in the University defensive line, freeing Riedlinger-Kapa to race to the line. Cooper again converted, the lead on the scoreboard returning to Ponsonby at 24-18.

The University restart failed to go the required ten metres. Ponsonby were awarded a penalty from the resulting scrum, the ball being kicked to touch. From the ensuing lineout Ponsonby attacked, only to have Lane halted in a dangerous tackle, to which the students were penalised. Cooper stepped up and goaled accordingly.

Cooper was a key contributor in Ponsonby’s fourth try, which was finished by replacement halfback Danny Tusitala in the right hand corner.

In the last ten minutes Ponsonby were powerless to prevent University’s number eight Uini Fetalaiga from scoring in the right hand corner, the try remaining unconverted.

Cooper put the icing on the cake with a 78th minute penalty goal, sealing the victory.

The euphoria and elation shown by the Ponsonby side at the final whistle was phenomenal, confirming how much this prized trophy and title means to the Ponsonby club.

 

Ponsonby:

Tries: Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa 2, John Cooper, Danny Tusitala

Conversions: John Cooper 3

Penalties: John Cooper 3

 

PONSONBY RUGBY BID’S FAREWELL TO NATHAN KEMP

Written by Terry Hodges

After four seasons as the Director of Rugby at Ponsonby Rugby, Nathan Kemp signs off on the 28th of July and will head to the UK to assume the role of Housemaster at a Boarding School in the Greater London area.

If all goes according to plan his final task will be to lock the prized Gallaher Shield away in the purpose-built cabinet at Ponsonby’s Western Springs Stadium clubrooms.

Just four days after the Gallaher Shield final he and his family - wife Zoe, and children Harry, Charlie and Amelie depart Auckland for the United Kingdom. As a qualified teacher, Kemp will teach A Level Business Studies and Physical Education at the Oratory School in Woodcote, located between Reading and Oxford. Furthermore, he will coach the Under 15A’s at the school, with no immediate plans to coach at a higher level.

Educated at Epsom’s St Peter’s College, Kemp captained the First XV, in addition to gaining national honours in age-group and national secondary schools rugby. He was regarded as the odd one out opting to play for the Ponsonby club rather than Marist where many of his First XV team-mates would have headed.

He came to Ponsonby in 1998, largely due to living nearby, but additionally as he had the opportunity to play Premier rugby straight out of school. Under coach at the time Wynne Jones, he initially played as a loose forward, despite his preference to be a hooker, but that spot was already occupied. However, he did eventually make the number two jersey his own. In all, he played 85 games for the Ponsonby Premiers between 1998 and 2004, including captaining the side to Gallaher Shield success in 2001, 2002 and 2004. He laments the 2003 semi-final which Ponsonby lost to University, as well as his side losing the final to Otahuhu in 2000 at Eden Park. With fond memories he does recall the semi-final in 2000 where Ponsonby edged Suburbs on the Eden Park number two field. Kemp was one of the try scorers on that day, where he ‘took the last pass in a wonderful move from Stanley Afeaki, and then streaked down the left flank to score’.  

His speed of the mark and work at the breakdown was invaluable, which inevitably saw him selected for the Auckland B’s and then the Auckland A side, and for the latter he notched up some 12 appearances.

During his time at Ponsonby, Kemp also caught the eye of national selectors, and was named to play for the New Zealand Maori Colts and New Zealand Barbarians, which eventually earned him a spot in the Blues Development team and then the Blues squad in 2004, making his debut against the Bulls.

With All Blacks Keven Mealamu and Derren Witcombe ahead of him as the Auckland A hookers, Kemp decided to move south to play for Manawatu. He played 18 games for the Turbo’s, and also joined the team’s staff as a Rugby Development Officer. As a natural leader, he was named to captain Manawatu against the touring British Lions side in 2005, and with humour recalls that the match was a cricket score that day (109-6 in favour of the Lions).

Whilst still under contract to Manawatu he moved to England in the 2006 off-season to play for Bradford and Bingley, before returning to Manawatu to play in the Provincial Championship and to secure his club release. It was in this season that he was awarded the prestigious Air NZ Second Division Player of the Year award.

Once again he jetted to the UK where he connected with the Cornish Pirates, followed by a stint with the Jersey Rugby Football Club in the role as a player/coach. Kemp was one of Jersey’s first professional players and was regarded as ‘the nucleus of the club’s revival’ in the 2013 season, when they remained unbeaten, and rose to third in London 2 South with a tremendous run in the second half of the season.

As it transpires it was during his time in Jersey that he met the lady who was to become his wife, and at the time her father was the Director of Rugby and Coaching at the club.

It was in early 2015 that Nathan packed up his family and returned to New Zealand, arriving at Ponsonby with a very impressive resume, assuming the role of the Director of Rugby at the club in March of that year. He acknowledges that he had big boots to fill as his predecessor was the great Bryan ‘Beegee’ Williams, and whilst he felt the pressure in the role, Kemp’s driving force was to do the club proud. Due to his previous history with the renowned club, he was acutely aware of the club’s important culture and the expectations that would be on him to nurture this.

In his first year in the new role, at the age of 36, he also donned the rugby boots again, playing for the injury hit Premier Reserves and the Premier sides.

In his four years as the Director of Rugby he has seen the club develop and grow, and he established a good rapport with the players, contributing his clear and strong technical knowledge of the game.

He recognises that the Ponsonby Premier side are placed on a pedestal and is immensely proud to see this side in the Gallaher Shield final in 2018. Given this, he can confidently leave our shore next week satisfied with the work that he achieved and knows that the club is in a good place.

Nathan Kemp will sign off on Saturday in good style, and on Saturday night he will reflect on a job well done.

Ponsonby prepares to farewell Director of Rugby Nathan Kemp (with a Gallaher Shield win?)

Nathan Kemp has been the face of Ponsonby rugby in a number of ways for a number of years. He was the guy whose yell of triumph was captured just after the final whistle in the 2002 Gallaher Shield final. He was one of a succession of captains to hold the Gallaher Shield aloft during Ponsonby’s epic 10 titles in 11 years run in 2001-11. He played for Auckland and, briefly, the Blues. His 85 matches for the club would have been higher except he was one of the new breed of player who was good enough to win a professional contract and ply his trade offshore.

He was the face of the KFC Super rugby commercial in 2017 – with his boys proudly wearing Ponsonby kit in the ads. He has been the face that meets and greets many players from around town or around the world when they first arrive at Ponsonby, or want to discuss their options for future development.

When he returned from England, married and with a young family, his playing days were done but his biggest contribution to the club was just about to begin – and that’s not forgetting his recognition as the Chairman’s Trophy winner in 2004 for ‘Special Services to the Club – Non-playing’.

Kemp’s 2002 photo had been incorporated into the one-off wallpaper used to redecorate the Committee Room in the 2011 rebuild at Western Springs, but being chosen to fill Bryan Williams’ Director of Rugby shoes in 2015 was among the ‘Hardest Act to Follow’ appointments in club history.

Undaunted, as any good Ponies front row man would be, Kemp set about putting his own stamp on a job that was changing with  the times, but never forgetting for a minute what made the club special. He had to keep the traditions strong, but in the new rugby world often found himself dealing with a player whose values were not necessarily the same as those of his father’s generation. Finding the balance could be a delicate operation.

In his own way, he managed to achieve this. He has been a little bit visionary, a little bit taskmaster, a talent scout at times, a planner, a guy who has to have the community interest in the forefront of his mind, a driver and a sounding board. He has to deliver results; that’s still as important as it has ever been at Auckland’s most successful and most famous club.

Kemp came into his job not long after Ponsonby completed one of the outstanding eras from any period in Auckland rugby history. In the way of life, there has to be a turn of the wheel. But at Western Springs five years without a Gallaher Shield is akin to a drought, and the faithful get a little antsy should the special cupboard on the wall remain empty too long. Of all the items on the check-list, this one stood out as a must-do.

Despite the pressure and occasional growling, Kemp didn’t panic. He saw a three-year road to the next title and held the faith with his management team and players. This looks almost prescient; in 2016 the Premiers weren’t really in the hunt; a year later they were closer but fell short in a winnable semi-final at University; in 2018 they went into the playoffs as winners of the Alan McEvoy Trophy, and then accounted for Eden 24-7 in the semi-final.

Below Premier level the club is still the powerhouse it has been in Auckland for generations. Every team is expected to be good, simply because of the famous colours they wear. Every team presents a Director of Rugby with challenges as well as moments to savour, and this they all do on an almost weekly basis. Kemp survives with sanity intact, and somehow all the work has been completed on time. It’s no easy job, but it has been ably filled for the last three years.

On Nathan Kemp’s last day in his current position, Ponsonby will face 2017 champion University in the Gallaher Shield final at Eden Park. No doubt this coincidence will be raised in team meetings during the week, but it won’t be by the man himself – that’s not his style. Others will want to achieve that win as a going-away present to a good bloke.

Kemp will head for England with his family bearing the club’s best wishes for his future, and thanks for services already rendered. It is an impressive list. There will be a large number of Ponies fans who will consider a Gallaher Shield win to be a fitting cap on those years of toil on the club’s behalf.

We’ll know about 4.30 on Saturday afternoon if this story will have the dream ending.

 Passing on the Ponsonby spirit to the club's younger members

Passing on the Ponsonby spirit to the club's younger members

Strong second spell takes Premiers to final

The Ponsonby Premiers have booked themselves a spot in next weeks Gallaher Shield final where they will square off against the 2017 champions, University.

In last Saturday’s semi-final Ponsonby put in a huge defensive effort and masterly attacking effort to overcome Eden by 24-7.

Next Saturday’s participation in the Gallaher Shield final is the first for Ponsonby since they last won the prestigious trophy in 2011 when they edged Grammar-Carlton by 20-19. To date in 2018 this Ponsonby side have won the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup and the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield, and adding the Gallaher Shield would complete what has been an impressive season.

Against Eden, Jamie Lane was handed the honour of leading the team onto Western Springs Stadium in what was his 40th and Blazer game. Lane was to be an imposing figure in this match, and his onfield energy and his lineout domination is testament to his commitment and passion for the game.

Both sides displayed plenty of early vitality, but the tension was evident. Eden were buoyed by a huge band of loyal supporters, who were to be in strong voice for much of the match.

Ponsonby were first on the board with a John Cooper penalty goal in the 10th minute.

Eden then spent the next several minutes attacking Ponsonby, which saw them take play from deep inside their own territory close to the Ponsonby line. Ponsonby defended phase after phase, but in the end were powerless to prevent Paulo Sasulu from crashing over. The conversion attempt by Jacob Umaga hit the upright and fortuitously bounced over.

With a 7-3 lead Eden’s game lifted and they applied a lot of pressure to Ponsonby, but the blue and blacks were up to the challenge, spearheaded by a massive defensive effort by their captain Aleks Dabek.

Eventually Ponsonby had a chance to turn the tides. An Eden clearing kick failed to find touch, and was taken by Morrison Siliko some 15 metres on the Ponsonby side of halfway. Siliko combined with Freedom Vaha’akalo in a move that split the Eden defence, and with some excellent support from Steven Savali and Wilson Lavelua, this move extended toward the Eden 22 metre mark. Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa was on hand to collect the final pass, and scored beneath the posts completing the lengthy move and what was a magnificent try. Cooper added the conversion, giving the lead back to Ponsonby at 10-7.

In the last ten minutes of the half the pendulum swung back the way of Eden when Herman Huch was sinbinned for a professional foul. However Eden were unable to penetrate the Ponsonby defence during the period that they had a one man advantage, including not succeeding with a 40 metre penalty goal attempt from in front.

Herman Huch rejoined the side just as halftime was called, and despite them leading on the scoreboard, Ponsonby were aware Eden had dominated proceedings for much of that spell. The game was definitely in the balance, with both sides aware that they had 40 minutes remaining to finish strongly, or their season would be over.

However for Eden their match was to change inside the opening ten minutes of the second spell. In the 47th minute a superb William Talataina-Mu break, plus good support from Campbell Woodmass put Ponsonby onto attack. Once inside the Eden 22 the promising move was halted illegally. The Eden infringement incurred a penalty, and the offending player marched to the sinbin for ten minutes.  Ponsonby took a quick tap penalty, and Taina Fox-Matamua barged over. The Cooper conversion was unsuccessful, but Ponsonby had a solid 15-7 advantage.

In the final quarter John Cooper goaled three penalty goals, two from 40 metres, and one from 35 metres out, the combined nine points extending Ponsonby to their 24-7 final score.

 

Ponsonby 24

Tries: Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa and Taina Fox-Matamua

Conversion: John Cooper

Penalties: John Cooper 4

Ponsonby Premiers host Eden in semi-final

Having home ground advantage, Ponsonby might be considered as the favourites in this Saturday’s Gallaher Shield sudden death semi-final.

However, on Saturday Ponsonby will be hosting Eden, who have proven to be more than a serious adversary in the past two seasons. Ponsonby and Eden have squared off on three occasions in 2018, the honours going to Ponsonby in the first two matches, then Eden claimed the win in the third.

This is the third consecutive year that Ponsonby have featured in the Gallaher Shield semi-finals, but have had been unable to progress to the final in the previous two years. In 2016 they faced Suburbs in New Lynn, and were downed by 18-7. In 2017 they travelled to Colin Maiden Park to do battle with University, and were defeated by 27-22.

Correspondingly, this is the first occasion that Eden have had an involvement in the Gallaher Shield semi-finals. In the last two seasons they defeated University at Merton Rd in the Portola Trophy final in 2016 by 27-21, then hosted Grammar-Tec in the final of the Jubilee Cup in 2017, punishing them by 75-28.

Looking beyond the semi-finals, Ponsonby last appeared in a Gallaher Shield final in 2011, which was the last occasion that they held the shield aloft, whilst Eden would dearly love to have their name engraved on the coveted trophy.

The last match with Eden, just three weeks ago, will still be fresh in the minds of the Ponsonby side. The blue and blacks had gone undefeated in the 2018 season until this day, and following the 33-31 loss they went on to draw with Waitemata, then lose to Pakuranga.

Several players return from injury enforced absences to bolster the Ponsonby side for the Eden clash, producing a strong side. Freedom Vaha’akalo and Rocky Khan return to the backline, the latter is sure to be a key playmaker as he was the last time that Ponsonby played Eden at Western Springs. In the pack, Connor Halangahu and Herman Huch return to the front row where they have been a formidable duo this season.. Jamie Lane returns to the middle row in what will be his 40th appearance for the Premier side, and his Blazer game.

The match kicks off at Western Springs Stadium at 2.45pm.

PONSONBY:
1. Connor Halangahu
2. Steven Savali
3. Herman Huch
4. Sam Slade
5. Jamie Lane
6. Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa
7. Aleks Dabek
8. Taina Fox-Matamua
9. Campbell Woodmass
10. Rocky Khan
11. Freedom Vaha’akalo
12. William Talataina-Mu
13. Patrick Tausie
14. Johnny Cooper
15. Morrison Siliko
16. Willie Uili
17. Wilson Lavelua
18. Alex Matapo
19. Moteiva Ngauamo
20. TJ Faalogo
21. Danny Tusitala
22. Tili Puloka
 

Premiers claim Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield

The Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield was awarded to the Ponsonby Premiers last Saturday after finishing as the top placed team in the competition at the end of the regular season.

Despite losing to Pakuranga on Saturday afternoon by 27-24, the two bonus points collected by Ponsonby in that match ensured them that they would be the top qualifying side, plus it entitled them to a home ground semi-final match in the pending Gallaher Shield round against Eden next Saturday.

To date in the 2018 season Ponsonby have locked the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup and the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield away in their Western Springs clubrooms, and they will want the Gallaher Shield to complete the trifecta. However, their preparations have not been as they would have liked with the last three matches of the round producing two losses and a draw.

Going into the match against Pakuranga, Ponsonby needed a win, or at least to secure a bonus point to earn a home semi-final, or two bonus points to achieve the home semi-final and win the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield. From the kick off the blue and blacks struggled to find some rhythm early on, and as they tried to settle into the task at hand, they started to make errors and concede penalties.

Pakuranga were first on the board in the 6th minute with a handy penalty being goaled by Obey Samate.

Ponsonby had an opportunity to equalise on the scoreboard after a superb lengthy John Cooper run took them toward the visitors 22, where Pakuranga subsequently infringed. A penalty in front of the posts was awarded, and rather than take the three points on offer, Ponsonby opted for a kick to touch. From the ensuing lineout Ponsonby went close to the Pakuranga line, only to concede a penalty. The relieving penalty by Pakuranga did not find touch, and Ponsonby launched another assault on the visitor’s territory. But as the ball was moved between the Ponsonby backs, a wayward pass was intercepted by the Pakuranga lock John Akau’oka-laula who galloped 60 metres untouched to score. Samate added the extra two points, extending Pakuranga’s lead to 10-0.

At the midway point in the spell Pakuranga fed a lineout some 15 metres on their side of halfway. Steven Savali intercepted the Pakuranga throw, and he set off through a yawning gap toward the goal line. The Ponsonby hooker was dragged down short, and an attacking scrum resulted. Play initially went right, then back left to Noah Mataia on the left wing, who dived in at the corner. William Talataina-Mu converted magnificently from the touchline.

From the restart Pakuranga gained significant territory and found themselves close to the Ponsonby line, only to concede a turnover. Ponsonby were awarded a scrum 5 metres from their line, and then a free kick went in their favour. Rather than kick for touch, or kick the ball into open space, Ponsonby opted for a scrum just metres from their own line. The inevitable then happened. Pakuranga applied pressure to the Ponsonby scrum, earning them a penalty, which was duly goaled with ease by Samate.

For much of the half the bounce of the ball, and the 50/50 calls were not going Ponsonby’s way, and accordingly the blue and blacks found themselves on the backfoot.

A minute before the halftime break Ponsonby fed a lineout on the Pakuranga 22 metre mark, the ball being dragged down by Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa. Play initially went left, then back right where Riedlinger-Kapa was waiting out wide, and he crossed in the corner.

Ponsonby turned at halftime trailing by 13-12 and with two tries in the bank they went straight to work in attempt to double that try tally.

Alas they found themselves on the backfoot in the opening minutes of the second spell. From what seemed to be a promising attack, Talataina-Mu attempted a chip kick in behind the Pakuranga defence, only to have the ball intercepted by Hawaii Ahokavi who raced 40 metres to the line. He then converted his try, extending the Pakuranga lead to 20-12.

It wasn’t until the 11th minute of the half that Ponsonby were able to successfully string some promising phases together which paid dividends, and a sweeping move which started in their own half was finished by John Cooper in the right-hand corner.

Five minutes later Ponsonby again applied pressure, and it paid off. A lineout inside the Pakuranga 22 was won cleanly, and some good work by Steven Savali, saw play move toward the line. The forward pack laid the platform for the backs to use. A deft pass from Talataina-Mu freed Patrick Tausie into space, scoring Ponsonby’s fourth, and bonus point try. Cooper converted, seeing Ponsonby take the lead for the first time in the match at 24-20.

In the final quarter Pakuranga exploited the Ponsonby defence once again and scored alongside the posts. The successful conversion gave the lead back to the visitors at 27-24.

In the last 15 minutes of the encounter Ponsonby tried to break the Pakuranga defence to snare victory, but their efforts were in vain.

Ponsonby will turn their attention to next week’s semi-final with Eden, conscious of the results in the past couple of weeks. They will be hoping that squad members with niggling injuries are passed fit to play, to ensure that they are at full strength for what is a sudden death encounter.

Ponsonby: 24 

Tries: Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Noah Mataia, Patrick Tausie and John Cooper

Conversions: William Talataina-Mu, John Cooper

 

Plenty at stake in final round

Going into this weeks final round robin match against Pakuranga, the Ponsonby Premiers will be comfortable in the knowledge that they have a secure spot in the pending Gallaher Shield semi-finals. However there is plenty at stake for them when they host Pakuranga on Saturday afternoon. Of the eight sides in the Alan McEvoy competition Ponsonby are the only side with a guaranteed place in next week’s semi-finals, but a win, or at the accrual of at least one bonus point, on Saturday against Pakuranga will earn them a semi-final match at Western Springs stadium. A win, or two bonus points will also see them win the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy, one which has eluded them for several seasons. In the past few seasons the Premiers have featured in Gallaher Shield semi-finals against Suburbs and University, but in these fixtures which were played away from Western Springs stadium, the results went the way of their opposition, who each had home ground advantage.

From the six matches of this round Pakuranga have recorded four losses and two solitary wins. Last week they were edged 26-14 by Suburbs, after trailing by 14-7 at halftime. When facing Ponsonby, Pakuranga will give no consideration to results against other teams. Pakuranga will rise to the occasion, and will be determined to halt Ponsonby’s progress.

After an impressive performance last week Wilson Lavelua retains his spot in the front row, and he will be joined by Brice Schilling. Returning from injury to the starting XV for the Pakuranga match is Patrick Tausie who slots back into the midfield. Also rejoining the side after being unavailable last week is number eight Taina Fox-Matamua. Starting from the bench in what will be their first appearances this season are Charles Napa'a and Danny Tusitala, who will be covering hooker and halfback respectively.     

The match kicks off at 2.45pm, preceeded by the two Development sides at 1.00pm.

The Ponsonby side for this fixture is:

PONSONBY:

1. Wilson Lavelua

2. Steven Savali

3. Brice Schilling

4. Moteiva Ngauamo

5. Sam Slade

6. Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa

7. Aleks Dabek

8. Taina Fox-Matamua

9. Campbell Woodmass

10. William Talataina-Mu

11. Noah Mataia

12. Tilitili Puloka

13. Patrick Tausie

14. Johnny Cooper

15. Morrison Siliko

16. Charles Napa'a

17. Alex Matapo

18. Phil Viane

19. McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga

20. TJ Faalogo

21. Danny Tusitala

22. Junior Cagiaceva

Ponsonby share points with Waitemata

Last Saturday’s penultimate round of the Alan McEvoy trophy saw a classic game of two halves between Ponsonby and Waitemata. The blue and blacks turned at halftime looking at an 18-0 deficit on the scoreboard, and it required an 80th minute try by them to even the scores.

The two valuable bonus points earned in the 18-18 draw allows Ponsonby to retain their spot at the top of the competition table, maintaining a handy three point buffer over the second placed side, University.

From the start against Waitemata, Ponsonby struggled to get into the game. The west Aucklanders did a good job of disrupting Ponsonby’s gameplan, forcing them into numerous errors.

The first try in the match came from an attempted clearing kick just ten metres from the Ponsonby line. The kick was charged down, the ball rebounding back to the in-goal area. Waitemata flanker Adrian Choat was successful in forcing the ball before it dribbled over the dead ball line.

With the breeze at their back Waitemata kicked cleverly to the corners, Ponsonby regularly having to defend their territory. Penalties started to mount against the blue and blacks, and errors kept occurring.

Waitemata further extended their lead to 10-0, then to 13-0 in the 21st and 27th minutes with penalty goals from the boot of Junior Matautia.

Waitemata kept plugging away as the spell progressed, and Ponsonby were called upon to defend. Despite Ponsonby’s efforts, just short of the break the home side found a gap and their hooker Vaea Vak’atua scored from broken play.

Ponsonby commenced the second half, acutely aware that they had barely fired a shot in the first spell.

In the first ten minutes they started to string some phases together, and eventually they were able to break the defence. A penalty was awarded to Ponsonby close to the Waitemata line. The ball was tapped quickly by William Talataina-Mu and he was dragged down just short. The ball was recycled, play going to the left, and Morrison Siliko snuck through a small gap. The conversion drifted wide.

Into the final quarter Ponsonby trailed by 18-5, but continued to look for ways to penetrate the Waitemata defence.

Talataina-Mu scored in the 65th minute, and his attempted conversion was unsuccessful. However the referee ruled that the Waitemata side charged the conversion attempt early, so Ponsonby were given another chance at the conversion, which fell just short.

The turning point in the match for Ponsonby came in the 69th minute when Morrison Siliko was close to scoring, but was felled in a high tackle. The offending Waitemata player was marched to the bin, and Talataina-Mu goaled the ensuing penalty.

Ponsonby spent the final ten minutes attacking the Waitemata territory, and it wasn’t until the last play of the match that they had an attacking scrum five metres from their hosts goal line. Initially it looked like Ponsonby may attempt a push over try, but the ball went left to Noah Mataia to score in the corner.     

Ponsonby ensured that the Anton Begovich Memorial Trophy will reside at Western Springs until next season, at least.

Next week’s final round of the competition has Ponsonby hosting Pakuranga at Western Springs stadium. Pakuranga languish in 7th place on the table, and a spot amongst the Gallaher Shield finalists is now beyond their reach. The two sides last met on the 21st of April at Bell Park, when Ponsonby scored a last minute try to seize victory away from Pakuranga. Ponsonby emerged with a 25-22 win that day, and Pakuranga will most certainly want to avenge that result.

Ponsonby:

Tries: Morrison Siliko, William Talataina-Mu and Noah Mataia

Penalty: William Talataina-Mu

Premier team to face Waitemata

After last week’s small blemish on what has been a near perfect season, the Ponsonby Premiers will look to get their semi-final plans back on track when they take on Waitemata on Saturday afternoon. Ponsonby were edged by Eden in a physical 33-31 encounter, but were still able to secure two valuable bonus points that saw them retain their top of the table position, which cemented their spot in the semis.

This week they will challenge the team that currently sits in seventh spot on 8 points, and if they clinch wins in the two remaining games and have other results go their way, mathematically a place in the semi-finals is not beyond Waitemata’s reach. So Ponsonby are certain to encounter a very determined opposition at Waitemata Park.

With the backing of their loyal supporters, Waitemata are traditionally a formidable prospect at home. Of the 12 competition games they have started this year they boast a lower than usual 50% win ratio, but they will be hungry for a win over Ponsonby to be amongst the top four qualifiers.

Equally, in this the penultimate round, whilst Ponsonby have secured their place in the semi-finals, they will want to claim maximum points from this fixture to be one of the top two finalists who earn home ground advantage.

Injury and non-availability of some key players sees several changes to the squad for the Waitemata match from the team that started against Eden last week. Wilson Lavelua, Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa and TJ Faalogo join the pack. In the backline Noah Mataia slots onto the left wing and Junior Cagiaceva has his first start of the year, starting at centre.

The Ponsonby side for this fixture is:

PONSONBY:

1. Wilson Lavelua

2. Steven Savali

3. Herman Huch

4. Moteiva Ngauamo

5. Sam Slade

6. Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa

7. Aleks Dabek

8. TJ Faalogo

9. Rilloy Suesue

10. William Talataina-Mu

11. Noah Mataia

12. Tilitili Puloka

13. Junior Cagiaceva

14. Johnny Cooper

15. Morrison Siliko

16. Matangireia Yates-Francis

17. Phil Viane

18. Brice Schilling

19. McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga

20. Antoine Pailette

21. Campbell Woodmass

22. Aleni Ropati

 

 

   

Eden break Premiers winning streak

The Premiers were keen to grab the Eden trifecta on Saturday afternoon and record their third victory of the season over their geographical neighbours. But their plans were thwarted by a well composed display by Eden, which saw Ponsonby downed by 33-31, ending their 14 match winning streak in 2018.

However, Ponsonby did secure two very valuable bonus points from the match which sees them retain their top spot on the competition table on 21 points. With just two rounds to go Ponsonby will be very keen to maintain their advantage in this round as they progress toward the semi-finals.

The match on Saturday featured two significant achievements form the blue and blacks. Standout performer this season Connor Halangahu, notched up his 40th, and Blazer game. Secondly, fullback Jordan Trainor scored 11 points in the match, giving him a total of 101 points in the season to date.

Eden’s performance featured some extremely precise goal kicking by first five eighth Jacob Umaga, who successfully kicked four penalty goals in the match, the first coming in just the second minute of the game.

The first try of the match was scored by Eden’s halfback, Desma Liaina, who stepped away from several tackles on his run to the line in the 10th minute. Liaina, a former Counties-Manukau halfback, was elusive from the base of the scrum, and was a handful for Ponsonby for the duration of the game.

Soon after the Eden try, Trainor put Ponsonby on the board with a handy penalty goal.

However, Eden responded almost straight away with a penalty goal, restoring their 10 point advantage on the scoreboard.

As the half progressed, Ponsonby were forced to absorb a lot of pressure from Eden. But an outstanding passage of play by the Ponsonby pack saw play go back deep inside the Eden territory, and then be awarded an attacking scrum just 22 metres from the Eden line. From the scrum base, the Ponsonby halfback, Rilloy Suesue, with the ball in hand dart and dive between the defence and score alongside the posts. Trainor added the extra two points.

From the restart, Ponsonby launched an assault on the Eden territory which saw Trainor make some good ground, then offload to Morrison Siliko on the left wing. Siliko raced down the left flank, eluding the opposition, and then completed the 60 metre move in the left hand corner. Trainor’s conversion attempt drifted away, but Ponsonby had the lead in the match for the first time at 15-13.

But the lead was short-lived, Umaga putting Eden back in front with another penalty goal.

Many of the Eden players were still returning to their respective on-field positions when Taina Fox-Matamua claimed the restart. The Ponsonby number 8 set off on an outstanding run which saw him gain 70 metres, and then be dragged down just metres short of the goal line. A ruck formed, and Fox-Matamua picked up the ball and crashed over. The conversion fell away, but Ponsonby had the lead once again, this time at 20-16.

Eden had the last say in the half, with another Umaga penalty goal, the sides going to the break with Ponsonby maintaining a slender 20-19 lead.

Ponsonby were first on the board in the second spell in the 52nd minute, with a Trainor penalty goal.

Ponsonby’s narrow lead of 23-19 was short-lived, with Eden responding with their second try of the match in the 56th minute, the try being scored close to the sticks, and converted accordingly.

As the match moved into final quarter, the advantage was looking very much in Eden’s favour. This looked more-so when Liaina scored a soft try, and his second of the match. The extra two points extended Eden’s lead to 33-23.

Despite what the scoreboard read, Ponsonby battled away and showed plenty of determination in their fightback.

Trainor added his third penalty goal in the 68th minute, taking the scoreboard to within seven points of their hosts.

With four minutes to run Patrick Tausie finished off a slick backline move, but the conversion attempt was unsuccessful.   

A late rally by Ponsonby was fruitless, and they will acknowledge that Eden deserved the win.

With the Eden match now behind them Ponsonby can regroup and set their sights on next weeks encounter with Waitemata, scheduled to be played on their home ground in Henderson. Waitemata are not completely out of play off contention, and are never an easy prospect on their pitch. At stake will be the Anton Begovich memorial trophy, which is currently in residence at Western Springs stadium since June 2016 when Ponsonby defeated Waitemata by 41-23.

Ponsonby: 31

Tries: Rilloy Suesue, Morrison Siliko, Taina Fox-Matamua and Patrick Tausie

Conversions: Jordan Trainor

Penalties: Jordan Trainor 3

 

 

Premier side to face Eden

The Premiers will square off against their Eden opposites this coming Saturday afternoon in what is the third time that the two sides have met in 2018.

Ponsonby will be eager for a win in this match, which should see them consolidate their place amongst the top four sides which will progress to the semi-finals in three weeks’ time. Eden who are currently sitting in fourth place on the competition table, will also be seeking the same outcome.

The two sides first did battle in 2018 in the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup final, which Ponsonby won by 34-30. In the second match, in round robin play, Eden’s impressive winning streak was ended by Ponsonby, who won by 27-5.

One of the stand out performers in the Ponsonby pack this year will join an elite list of those before him will earn his Blazer. Prop Connor Halangahu has been one of the powerhouses of the Ponsonby front row, and will record his 40th Premier appearance.

The Ponsonby side features a few changes in the backline from that which took the field against Suburbs in the previous round. Rilloy Suesue has his first start of the year at halfback, Morrison Siliko returns from injury to start on the left wing, and Jordan Trainor returns to the fullback position after duty with the Blues.

The Ponsonby side for this fixture is:

PONSONBY:

1. Connor Halangahu

2. Steven Savali

3. Herman Huch

4. Moteiva Ngauamo

5. Sam Slade

6. Waha Waitohi

7. Aleks Dabek

8. Taina Fox-Matamua

9. Rilloy Suesue

10. William Talataina-Mu

11. Morrison Siliko

12. Tilitili Puloka

13. Patrick Tausie

14. Johnny Cooper

15. Jordan Trainor

16. Willie Uili

17. Brice Schilling

18. Wilson Lavelua

19. TJ Faalogo

20. McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga

21. Campbell Woodmass

22. Freedom Vaha’akalo

 

 

 

 

Premiers sneak home against Suburbs

The Ponsonby Premier side had one of their strongest assignments of the year when they faced Suburbs last Saturday afternoon. It was evident that Suburbs were desperate for the win to keep their play off hopes alive, but Ponsonby held on for a 20-16 victory. Suburbs did enough to disrupt the Ponsonby game plan, and those on hand witnessed a huge defensive effort by the blue and blacks rather than the expansive game which had been displayed in the previous weeks.

Ponsonby were called upon to absorb a lot of pressure from Suburbs right from the start, and a series of penalties against them did not help. As the penalties mounted, referee Geoff Willmott issued a warning to Ponsonby that evasive action would result if these indiscretions continued, and true to his word, in the 13th minute the lock Moteiva Ngauamo was shown a yellow card.

Ponsonby successfully defended their line and kept the scoreboard in tact for nine of the minutes that Ngauamo was in the bin, but just as he was about to return, Carl Perry goaled a handy penalty for Suburbs.

The match was 23 minutes old before Ponsonby were able to enter the visitor’s territory, and it was at this stage that William Talataina-Mu goaled a penalty for Ponsonby.

Having points on the board seemed to kick start Ponsonby into action, and they started to apply pressure to Suburbs. Their first try eventually came in the 34th minute when Taina Fox-Matamua crashed over from a scrum a few metres out.

From the Suburbs restart, Campbell Woodmass angled a perfect kick back into the visitors half. A Suburbs man accepted the kick, but could not prevent the ball from bouncing from his arms and into touch. Ponsonby then executed a quick throw in, with Aleks Dabek setting up Tilitili Puloka for a 30 metre sprint to the line.

Ponsonby turned at 13-3 ahead, acutely aware that the latter period of the first spell belonged to them, but they needed more points to keep Suburbs at bay.

The opening minutes of the second spell belonged to Suburbs, and they effectively dominated proceedings.  A clever move saw them score in the right hand corner in the 45th minute, the try not being converted.

Ponsonby were again called upon to make a large number of tackles, and proficiently shut down wave after wave of Suburbs attacks.

In the 55th minute Ponsonby skilfully effected a set move which saw play move wide through the backs, and Freedom Vaha’akalo score in the right hand corner.

Soon after, Perry goaled again for Suburbs, the scoreboard showing 20-11 in Ponsonby’s favour.

With three tries in the bag, Ponsonby were eager to score again, and secure a valuable bonus point. They launched an assault on Suburbs from 50 metres out, and with a lot of space ahead and no defenders, signs looked good. However, a wayward pass was intercepted by Suburbs speedster Bruno Tuivai, who raced to the line. The conversion fell short, and Ponsonby had a slender 20-16 lead.

In the last 15 minutes Suburbs threw everything at Ponsonby, and the blue and blacks tackled their hearts out. Two penalty goal attempts by Ponsonby in this period would have relieved some pressure, but these attempts were unsuccessful.

Ponsonby held on for the win, and will acknowledge that Suburbs gave them one of their toughest tests of the competition. The win sees Ponsonby retain their spot at the top of the competition table and have won every match to date in 2018. With three matches remaining in the round they will be keen to continue their winning ways to strengthen their chances of a place in, and home ground advantage in the imminent semi-finals.

Next week Ponsonby travel up the road to Gribblehurst Park to tackle Eden, who have rediscovered the impressive form that saw them dominate the competition earlier in the 2018 season.

   

Premiers to face Suburbs

A potentially tough assignment awaits the Ponsonby Premiers this Saturday afternoon when they host Suburbs at Western Springs Stadium in the fourth round of the Auckland club competition.

Ponsonby and Suburbs met on two occasions in 2017 and the victory on both went to Suburbs. In the first match the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup final, the scoreline was 31-15 and in the second Suburbs won by a convincing 36-0. Ponsonby last beat Suburbs in July 2016.

Ponsonby are a more cohesive unit in 2018 than in recent seasons and are producing some commanding and consistent results. Suburbs on the other hand in 2018 are still to discover the form that saw them win the Gallaher Shield in 2016 and make the Gallaher Shield final in 2017.

In 2018 Suburbs have shown some ominous signs and they possess some strong ball runners in the forwards and some pace out wide. The west Aucklanders have been a bogey team for Ponsonby for many years and would dearly love to disrupt Ponsonby’s path toward the finals.

The Ponsonby side for this fixture is:

PONSONBY:

1. Connor Halangahu

2. Steven Savali

3. Herman Huch

4. Samuel Slade

5. Moteiva Ngauamo

6. Waha Waitohi

7. Aleks Dabek

8. Taina Fox-Matamua

9. Campbell Woodmass

10. William Talataina-Mu

11. Noah Mataia

12. Tilitili Puloka

13. Patrick Tausie

14. Johnny Cooper

15. Morrison Siliko

16. Willie Uili

17. Brice Schilling

18. Matangareia Yates-Francis

19. Jamie Lane

20. Mcarthy Cocker-Filikitonga

21. Rillroy Suesue

22. Freedom Vaha’akalo

 

 

 

 

 

Premiers impress again

For the second time in the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy round the Ponsonby Premiers cracked 50 points in a match. Last Saturday they inflicted a 52-10 score on College Rifles, crossing for eight tries in the rout.

Ponsonby’s remarkable form sees them as the only unbeaten side in the Premier competition to date in 2018 and signs are encouraging as they look towards a spot in the semi-finals.

The blue and blacks opened the scoring in just the 5th minute of the match against College Rifles when Steven Savali barged over from a lineout close to the try line.

The visitors responded soon after with a handy penalty goal. Having points on the board boosted their confidence and they successfully forced Ponsonby into a period of mistakes and inaccuracies, As a consequence College Rifles strung some phases together, putting Ponsonby on the backfoot and eventually scored a well worked try in the corner, which was converted from wide out.

College Rifles went to 10-7 ahead, and it was a surprise to many that this was the end of their scoring. Ponsonby took charge of the proceedings and scored 45 unanswered points.

In the 28th minute Tilitili Puloka fielded a College Rifles grubber kick, and then returned the kick toward the visitors territory. Puloka cleverly claimed the high kick ahead of the Rifles players, initiating a promising move. Play went wide and some excellent work by Patrick Tausie and John Cooper resulted, followed by a sprint by Campbell Woodmass to the line. William Talataina-Mu again converted.

A few minutes later Ponsonby again attacked. Ponsonby had a scrum feed 10 metres on the College Rifles side of halfway. Play went right to Cooper who ran round his marker, then placed a clever kick toward the Rifles line. A Rifles player lined the kick up, conscious of several Ponsonby men descending upon him. The kick was taken just shy of the line , but was not marked. A handful of Ponsonby players nabbed the Rifles player, and unable to ground the ball he was then forced back over the deadball line. From the ensuing scrum Rocky Khan crossed in the right hand corner.

The scoring in the half wasn’t complete, and right on the stroke of the break Aleks Dabek went agonisingly close to the line, only to be cut short, but on hand was Jamie Lane who had the strength to reach out and score beneath the posts.

Ponsonby started the second half with some real determination, and in just the second minute Tilitili Puloka made some excellent ground, and a kick and chase toward the goal line was won by Patrick Tausie, beating the opposition to the touchdown..

John Cooper displayed some superb skills in the scoring of Ponsonby’s sixth try of the match. Just on the Rifles side of halfway and with the ball in hand, he placed a deft kick over his marker, and had the speed to reclaim the ball and score out wide.

Tausie crossed for his second try at the midway point in the half, before Morrison Siliko completed the scoring in the final five minutes.

Ponsonby now turn their attention to the fourth round when they host Suburbs at Western Springs next Saturday afternoon, the match kicking off at 2.45pm.

 

PONSONBY 52

Tries: Patrick Tausie 2, Steven Savali, Jamie Lane, Rocky Khan, John Cooper, Campbell Woodmass and Morrison Siliko

Conversions: William Talataina-Mu 2, Rocky Khan 2, Morrison Siliko, John Cooper

HALFTIME: 26-10

 

 

Premiers take points in University clash

Ponsonby and University have met on three occasions in 2018, and the honours reads three to nil in Ponsonby’s favour following their 32-26 victory against the students last Saturday. This win will most certainly give the blue and blacks a tremendous amount of confidence as they plan their campaign to be amongst the top qualifiers to compete for the Gallaher Shield in late July.

Played at Western Springs Stadium in perfect rugby conditions, University raced out to an early 12-0 lead. However Ponsonby managed to claw their way back to lead narrowly by 15-12 at the halftime break, courtesy of tries to Morrison Siliko and William Talataina-Mu, plus a penalty and a conversion by Jordan Trainor.

The combined scrummaging work of Connor Halangahu and Herman Huch were good competition for their much favoured opposites of Marcel Renata and Antonio Ripata, their efforts contributing to the Ponsonby pack snaring a number of tightheads from the students.

In the second half Ponsonby added two further tries, scored by Taina Fox-Matamua and John Cooper, with Trainor landing both conversions in addition to adding a penalty goal.

Ponsonby sit at the top of the Alan McEvoy Trophy table after two rounds, with ten points and next week they face the second placed side – College Rifles. Ponsonby have a clean sweep to date in 2018, having won every match. College Rifles on the other hand are yet to lose a match since the start of the Alan McEvoy qualifying round on the 14th of April. They have won all bar one, being a 31-all draw against Papatoetoe in the third round. The match between the two sides is certain to be a massive struggle given the intense rivalry in this competition, and both sides will have their foot on the accelerator as they compete for top spot on the table. The encounter kicks off at 2.45pm at Western Springs Stadium next Saturday afternoon.

   

Premiers focus on University clash

Last week’s first round of the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy Competition produced a couple of intriguing outcomes, and none more so than Ponsonby’s 57-10 hammering of Grammar-Tec. Very few would have predicted that there would be a significant difference from the previous round which finished the week earlier, between the side that topped Pool B and the runner up side of Pool A. It has been suggested that Grammar-Tec underestimated how much Ponsonby has improved this year and that the form that they produced last week is a sign of their outstanding coaching and development. Ponsonby’s brand of rugby this year is extremely entertaining and exciting.

Ponsonby will look to continue this superb form in their encounter on Saturday afternoon when they host University at Western Springs Stadium. University battled to overcome Eden by 17-11 last week after leading by a narrow 10-8 at halftime.

Ponsonby have played University twice already in 2018, with the honours going their way on both occasions, both games being played at Colin Maiden Park. In the Waka Nathan Cup round back in March Ponsonby were too slick for the students, edging them by 27-20. Just over a month ago Ponsonby were commanding, overcoming some on-field obstacles, in their 28-25 win over University.

Ponsonby have named their strongest possible line-up to start against University, with the only change from last weeks lineup being Campbell Woodmass starting at halfback.

The blue and blacks are sure to encounter plenty of resistance from University as the students look to reverse the results of the two previous encounters, and they look to build their campaign to retain the Gallaher Shield.

The match kicks off at Western Springs Stadium at 2.45pm, with the two Development sides meeting in the curtain-raiser at 12.45pm.

 

PONSONBY:

1. Connor Halangahu

2. Steven Savali

3. Herman Huch

4. Moteiva Ngauamo

5. Jamie Lane

6. Nepia Fox-Matamua

7. Aleks Dabek (c)

8. Taina Fox-Matamua

9. Campbell Woodmass

10. Rocky Khan

11. Morrison Siliko

12. William Talataina-Mu

13. Patrick Tausie

14. Johnny Cooper

15. Jordan Trainor

16. Willie Uili

17. Brice Schilling

18. Waha Waitohi

19. T Jr Faalogo

20. Rilloy Suesue

21. Tili Puloka

22. Noah Mataia

 

Premiers impressive in Grammar-Tec mauling

The Ponsonby Premiers kicked off their Alan McEvoy Championship campaign in style last Saturday with an emphatic demolition of Grammar-Tec by 57-10. Ponsonby paved the way for the victory with six first half tries, four being scored by Jordan Trainor from fullback, putting them ahead by 40-10 at halftime.

From the get-go Ponsonby played the game at a frenetic pace, which Grammar-Tec struggled to match or control. The Ponsonby pack were ruthless and dominant, with Connor Halangahu appearing to have the better of his opposite in the scrum and in the breakdown.

Rocky Khan was relishing being back in the blue and black jumper, and his superb skills were causing endless mayhem for the intended Grammar-Tec defenders. Khan was a key component in several of the Trainor tries, providing the spectators with some genuine entertainment.

Taina Fox- Matamua is impressing in each appearance, and he joined the scoring sheet with two tries.

The message from the Grammar-Tec coaching team at the break would have been stern, but they were kept scoreless by Ponsonby, and were unable to prevent the blue and blacks from scoring three further tries in the second spell – two to Patrick Tausie and one to Tili Puloka.

Ponsonby will now focus on next Saturday’s assignment when they will host University at Western Springs Stadium. University edged past Eden by 17-11 in a very physical encounter in last week’s round. Ponsonby and University have done battle on two occasions so far in 2018, and Ponsonby have been the victors in both matches.

PONSONBY 57

Tries: Jordan Trainor 4, Taina Fox-Matamua 2, Patrick Tausie 2 and Tili Puloka

Conversions: Jordan Trainor 5, Rocky Khan

Premiers ready for next round

The impressive form shown by the Ponsonby Premiers to date in 2018, sees them as the only unbeaten side at this level. After ten wins on the trot, the real measure of their fortitude and the development from the past few seasons will be put to the test commencing this Saturday when the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy competition kicks off. Ponsonby will have seven seemingly tough matches, starting with Grammar-Tec on their Orakei home ground on Saturday afternoon.

The eight sides in the Alan McEvoy competition square off on a round robin basis, with the top four finalists progressing to the Gallaher Shield play-offs in late July. Rivalry in the round will be high, as all the sides seek one of the top four spots, Additionally, the sides that finish first and second are awarded home ground advantage in the semi-finals, the home ground benefit eluding Ponsonby in recent seasons and this has proved costly.

Ponsonby’s form in 2018 has been described by many as impressive, especially in the matches against the ‘big guns’ of the round. The side is performing as a cohesive unit, with the efforts of many of the unsung heroes in the squad being acknowledged by various from outside the club.

In 2018 Grammar-Tec’s form, by their own admission, has been patchy, but they are a well-regarded nemesis of Ponsonby. In recent years Grammar-Tec had an advantage over Ponsonby, and encounters between the two generally saw the honours going their way.

The two sides last met in July 2017. Played at Orakei Domain, Ponsonby raced out to a 24-0 after 22 minutes. In the second half Ponsonby went to 36-7 ahead, and then resisted a Grammar-Tec comeback, holding on to win by 36-28.

Ponsonby have named a strong side to start against Grammar-Tec, including the return to the backs of Jordan Trainor and John Cooper, plus Hermann Huch starts in the front row after being rested last week. Sam Slade has been handed the honour of captaining the side.

The match on Saturday is sure to be a cracker, and Grammar-Tec is certain to produce a mammoth performance, eager to break Ponsonby’s winning streak and to impede their Gallaher Shield aspirations.

PONSONBY:

1. Connor Halangahu

2. Steven Savali

3. Herman Huch

4. Samuel Slade (C)

5. Jamie Lane

6. Nepia Fox-Matamua

7. Aleks Dabek

8. Taina Fox-Matamua

9. Tatsuya Hamano

10. Rocky Khan

11. Morrison Siliko

12. William Talataina-Mu

13. Patrick Tausie

14. Johnny Cooper

15. Jordan Trainor

16. Willie Uili

17. Brice Schilling

18. Daniel Mau’u

19. Moteiva Ngauamo

20. Mcarthy Cocker-Filikitonga

21. Campbell Woodmass

22. Tilitili Puloka

Premiers rampant over Otahuhu

The last match of the first round competition last Saturday had the Ponsonby Premiers drawn to face Otahuhu at Sturges Park. This match was essentially a clash between the team at the top of the table (Ponsonby) and the team at the bottom of the table. Ponsonby had already secured a spot in the Alan McEvoy Trophy round, so there was nothing at stake in this fixture, apart from Ponsonby wanting to retain their unbeaten record in 2018.

The Premiers crossed for 14 tries in the 84-10 spectacle, with winger Noah Mataia registering a hat trick. In a match which was extremely one-sided, the game was played with tremendous spirit and featured very few penalties.

This match saw a handful of changes to the run on squad from that which had performed so well against Eden in the previous round. Waha Waitohi, Brice Schilling and Tili Puloka were promoted from the bench to start against Otahuhu, whilst Noah Mataia was called into the team to cover for the unavailable Jordan Trainor.

Ponsonby’s first try of the match came in the opening minute, and from this moment the points came at a regular clip. A Ponsonby clearing kick was knocked on by Otahuhu, the ball falling into the arms of Steven Savali who charged down the right hand touchline. Play halted momentarily, and then went left, then back right again, reaching Savali who crossed the line. William Talataina-Mu converted.

The second try came in the 12th minute when the captain Aleks Dabek completed a move which had seen Ponsonby spend a lengthy period on attack.

Rocky Khan scored Ponsonby’s third try of the game, which was the result of an 80 metre sweeping move. Talataina-Mu initiated an entertaining passage of play, which included a strong burst by Taina Fox-Matamua. Khan slipped in at the right hand corner, the try being converted by Talataina-Mu, in what was his last act of the game, succumbing to a shoulder injury.

No sooner had Talataina-Mu retired from the game, his replacement Matai Fakautoki scored Ponsonby’s fourth, and bonus point try. The blue and blacks were awarded a penalty 25 metres from the Otahuhu line. A quick tap was taken, play going wide to Morrison Siliko who drew the final defender then offloading to Fakautoki to cross the line. Tili Puloka converted extending the score to 31-0.

Otahuhu recorded their first points of the game when they goaled a handy penalty in the 33rd minute.

From the restart Ponsonby went into the attack mode featuring a move that stretched 50 metres and some superb interchanging between backs and forwards. The move was finished by Puloka who dotted down beneath the posts, and then converted by Khan.

The Otahuhu restart failed to go the required 10 metres, Ponsonby being awarded a scrum on the halfway mark. From this scrum an incisive Siliko break took play agonisingly close to the Otahuhu line. Play went left to the left wing for Noah Mataia to cross in the corner. Khan added the extra points, extending the score to 45-3.

Early in the second spell Taina Fox-Matamua crashed over, followed in quick succession by Noah Mataia who scored his second, recording Ponsonby’s seventh and eighth tries of the match respectively.

With Ponsonby having the go forward impetus, players were rested and several others were injected to the game from the bench. One of the replacement props, Daniel Mau’u, charged over in the 53rd minute. The try was converted by replacement halfback Campbell Woodmass.

Morrison Siliko was having an outstanding match from fullback and was making tremendous territory on his many scything runs. Ponsonby took a quick tap penalty in the 57th minute, play going wide to Siliko to cross in the right hand corner.

A few minutes later Ponsonby were awarded a penalty just inside the Otahuhu half, the ball being drilled toward the corner. From the ensuing lineout the forwards drove to the line, Brice Schilling emerging with the ball in hand.

Otahuhu scored their solitary try of the game in the 68th minute from a tap penalty much to the delight of the home crowd, Ponsonby powerless to stop their momentum.

In the final ten minutes of the match Ponsonby crossed for their last two tries, the first by replacement winger Sam Tabuatamata then the last by Noah Mataia who registered his third.

Ponsonby now advance to the Alan McEvoy competition, the seven match round-robin starts next Saturday. In the competition the blue and blacks will square off with home games against Suburbs, University, Pakuranga and College Rifles, and away games against Suburbs, Grammar-Tec and Waitemata. Ponsonby will meet Grammar-Tec at their Orakei home ground at the earlier kick off time of 1.45pm next Saturday.

 

Ponsonby: 84

Tries: Noah Mataia 3, Morrison Siliko 2, Steven Savali, Aleks Dabek, Tili Puloka, Rocky Khan, Matai Fakautoki, Daniel Mau’u, Taina Fox-Matamua, Brice Schilling and Sam Tabuatamata

Conversions: William Talataina-Mu 2, Rocky Khan 3, Tili Puloka, Campbell Woodmass

 

PONSONBY

1 Connor Halangahu; 2 Steven Savali; 3 Brice Schilling; 4 Jamie Lane; 5 Moteiva Ngauamo;

6 Waha Waitohi; 7 Aleks Dabek; 8 Taina Fox-Matamua; 9 Tatsuya Hamano;

10 Rocky Khanl 12 William Talataina-Mu; 11 Noah Mataia; 13 Patrick Tausie; 14 Tili Puloka;

 15 Morrison Siliko;

16 Willie Uili; 17 Daniel Mau’u; 18 Sam Slade; 19 TJ Faalogo;  20 Campbell Woodmass;  

21 Matai Fakautoki;  22 Sam Tabuatamata