It wasn’t vintage rugby, but the Ponsonby Premiers did what they needed to take the maximum competition points from their match with Otahuhu on Saturday afternoon. Played at Sturges Park under sunny skies, Ponsonby scored seven tries in the 42-3 victory, with Keenan Masina bagging a double.
With Ponsonby’s spot already guaranteed in the next round, the coaching team took the opportunity to rest several first choice players, which opened the door for a group of players from the Premier Reserve grade to display their skills.
Morrison Siliko, playing at first five eighth, was given an early opportunity to open the scoring with a penalty shot at goal from 20 metres out, and directly in front. The kick struck the upright and fortuitously bounced in off.
Much of the first 30 minutes in the match was error ridden, and many attacking attempts by Ponsonby were met by some resilient Otahuhu defence. But it was only a matter of time before the defensive line would break.
Ponsonby stole an Otahuhu lineout 30 metres out, Leo Ngahe then bursting away from broken play. With support from the outstanding Presley Tufuga, play went close to the Otahuhu line, and the final pass went to Pale Pasina, who crashed over out wide. The Siliko conversion was charged down, and Ponsonby had a lead of 8-0.
The next try came just two minutes later. The Ponsonby pack snared a turnover on the halfway mark, and a clever chip kick by Laki Tiatia fell neatly for the chasing Keenan Masina, who gathered and scored in the tackle of the Otahuhu midfielders. Siliko nailed the conversion, and the lead had extended to 15-0.
Just short of the halftime break, Masina crossed for his second of the match, the try being unconverted.
Ponsonby went to the break at 20-0 ahead, after enjoying the use of a brisk breeze in the first spell.
Early in the second spell the Otahuhu fullback Moe Iafeta goaled a penalty for his side.
Ponsonby struck back almost immediately, Joe Beckett unleashing his blistering pace down the right wing, dotting down in the corner.
In the 16th minute of the second spell, Otahuhu lost a man to the sin bin for an indiscretion at the breakdown. Ponsonby then sought to capitalise on their one man advantage.
A penalty in Ponsonby’s favour was drilled to the corner. The forwards drove toward the line, and Marco Fepuleai burst through for the try. Once again the Siliko conversion was charged down, and Ponsonby now led by 30-3.
Into the final ten minutes of the match, and Ponsonby continued to look for try scoring opportunities.
Joe Beckett once again found space down the right wing, and eventually cut back infield. After drawing the last defenders, Beckett passed to the supporting Siliko who strolled in under the posts. Siliko converted his try from in front.
Right on fulltime, Ponsonby drilled another penalty to the corner. The lineout went in Ponsonby’s favour, and Willis Hopwood crossed for the final try.
Ponsonby completed the first round with six wins and a solitary loss. Of note is that of the 16 teams in the Auckland Premier competition, Ponsonby conceded the least number of points (100), and one third of those points (33) were conceded in one game, against Grammar-Tec.
Ponsonby now progress to the next round, which will see them play College Rifles, Pakuranga, Grammar-Tec, Waitemata, Marist, Suburbs and Papatoetoe, the draw to be finalised this week. These eight sides will compete for the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield, and at the end of seven rounds, the top four sides will then compete for the Gallaher Shield.
The Ponsonby Premier Reserves went through the first round of their competition undefeated, and in the curtainraiser at Sturges Park defeated Otahuhu by 53-0 on Saturday afternoon. The Ponsonby side crossed for nine tries, with right wing Dan Willemsen crossing twice.
Tries: Keenan Masina 2, Pale Pasina, Joe Beckett, Marco Fepuleai, Willis Hopwood and Morrison Siliko
Conversions: Morrison Siliko 2
Penalty: Morrison Siliko
PONSONBY PREMIER RESERVES 53
Tries: Dan Willemsen 2, Herman Huch, Rob Sanele, Josh Hawkins, Doug Halley, Niall Cavanagh, Roger Tuamoheloa and Ian Leppard
Conversions: Willie Gibbons 4