The Ponsonby Premier side produced a clinical display against their Pakuranga opposites last Saturday afternoon at Western Springs Stadium, despatching the visiting side by 18-9 after the blue and blacks had trailed by 6-3 at the halftime break.
Ponsonby claimed four valuable competition points from the fixture, and have registered two wins from two outings in the Alan McEvoy Memorial Trophy round, plus have now gone undefeated for eight consecutive games in 2016.
The win also ensures that the Fred Allen Challenge Cup will reside at the Western Springs clubrooms for at least two more weeks.
This match marked the 40th and blazer game of outstanding prop Alex Matapo, and he was given the celebrated honour of leading the Ponsonby Premier team onto the ground.
Ponsonby spent the first three minutes of the match on attack and were extremely unlucky not to cross the chalk at this time. However Pakuranga realised the pending danger, and as Ponsonby came agonisingly close to scoring, the visitors decided that it was safer to give away a penalty and conceivably concede three points, rather than see a possible seven points on the scoreboard. Ponsonby’s William Talataina-Mu then goaled the resulting penalty from the handy position.
Pakuranga added a penalty of their own in the ninth minute, levelling the scores at 3-3.
At the 18th minute mark in the match, Ponsonby’s captain Waha Waitohi was sinbinned, which could easily have been a defining point in the game. Waitohi was penalised for an offence just short of the Ponsonby line and Pakuranga goaled the resulting penalty, giving them a 6-3 lead.
Fortunately the Ponsonby defence was sound, and they only conceded these three points whilst they were a man short on the field.
For much of remaining minutes in the half Ponsonby found that their Pakuranga opposites were offside, without punishment.
In the 27th minute, the vigilant Talataina-Mu spied a golden opportunity to capitalise on the offside play. With the opposition up close, he sold a superb dummy, and with no-one ahead he set sail into open space. A solitary defender appeared from nowhere, so Talataina-Mu floated a pass to his left to the unmarked Pryor Collier to run in for the try, but alas the pass was judged to be forward, so the try was not awarded.
Ponsonby went to the break down by 6-3. The first half had promised a lot, but after a titanic tussle neither side had been able to gain any significant ascendency.
Pakuranga started the second spell as Ponsonby had started the first, spending several minutes on attack. But rather than hope for a penalty to be awarded, Pakuranga opted for a drop goal, the kick sailing away, and possession being gifted back to Ponsonby.
Pakuranga did however succeed with a penalty goal in the 54th minute, stretching their lead to 9-3.
Ponsonby needed some magic, or luck – or both.
Morrison Siliko entered the game via the bench whilst the last penalty was being goaled, taking his place on the left wing. The restart by Talataina-Mu was not claimed cleanly by Pakuranga, and Siliko had snuck through amongst their pack, snatching the mis-queued tap down. With the ball in hand he stepped several bewildered defenders, but the move stopped just short of the line. However the Siliko magic had created the necessary impetus, and after several phases and set piece, play went left and he crossed in the corner for the try. The conversion drifted away, and Ponsonby were now just a solitary point behind Pakuranga.
With ten minutes to run, Ponsonby had a lineout feed 18 minutes out from the visitor’s line. What followed was a magnificent well executed set move. The ball was tapped down to the replacement halfback Laki Tiatia, and then to Talataina-Mu who ran in a perfect arc, misleading the defence, and in support was the athletic Presley Tufuga who ran in beneath the posts. Talataina-Mu added the extra two points, and Ponsonby now had a 15-9 lead.
A penalty goal was added to the Ponsonby tally in the dying moments, putting the lid on a satisfying victory.
Ponsonby can now look ahead to the third round of the competition next Saturday afternoon when they travel to Henderson to face Waitemata, a side that they have not savoured victory against for three seasons. Waitemata will be lamenting missed opportunities after they had a lions share of possession against Marist, only to have the match result in a 27-all draw.
Tries: Morrison Siliko and Presley Tufuga
Conversion: William Talataina-Mu
Penalties: William Talataina-Mu 2