The remarkable achievements of this tremendous side should not go un-noticed. The Ponsonby Premier Reserves continued their unbeaten run and their outstanding form in 2016, when they played a thoroughly entertaining match on Saturday afternoon against their Pakuranga opposites.
Ponsonby won this match by 27-15 after leading by 22-3 at halftime, scoring four tries in the match.
So many players in the game could be singled out for ‘man of the match’ honours, but this side achieves as a united team. On Saturday the spectators were treated to a gutsy performance, where commitment was the order of the day. Every man in the match day squad showed the true meaning of ‘no ezy pony’, and how important the blue and black jersey is to him.
Those on hand were treated to ruthless tackling by loose forwards Ji Young Lee, Josh Hawkins and Willis Hopwood, barnstorming running by hooker Herman Huch, lineout dominance from Ben Bacon and Josh McCombie, coupled with committed running out wide from Doug Halley, Dan Willemsen, Joel Joshi-Smith and Rob Sanele. But the man that was a constant thorn in the side of Pakuranga was the evergreen Roger Tuamoheloa. The veteran halfback was exceptional from the base of the rucks and the scrums, having a significant hand in all four of Ponsonby’s tries, including crossing for one of his own. But it was the sniping runs at crucial times that frustrated the Pakuranga side, using his immense experience and skill to create opportunities for his side to completely dominate proceedings.
Ponsonby started the match with a hiss and a roar, gaining major ground using the ‘pick and go’ method, a practise which this side does extremely well.
The first try of the match came early, after Roger Tuamoheloa had provided the momentum from the base of a scrum, play going close, and after an exchange of possession and a lineout, Josh Hawkins barged over. Rob Sanele converted, and Ponsonby had a handy 7-0 lead.
Pakuranga goaled a penalty in the tenth minute, their only points scoring of the half.
Sadly, following this penalty was a lengthy injury break, when Ponsonby lock Niall Cavanagh was stretchered from the field sustaining a nasty ankle break.
Following this unscheduled stoppage Ponsonby had a lineout feed some 20 metres out from the visitors line. With possession secured, the blue and black pack drove forward. Tuamoheloa then went right, creating a neat little gap, and then offloading to the supporting Ji Young Lee to charge to the corner for a splendid try.
The conversion of the Ji Young Lee try by Rob Sanele was unsuccessful, but he did goal a penalty midway through the spell, advancing Ponsonby’s lead to 15-3.
Pakuranga were becoming increasingly frustrated at Ponsonby’s dominance in the match, and resorted to ugly tactics. In one resulting melee ten minutes out from halftime, Rob Sanele found himself being shown a yellow card. Being down to 14 men intensified the commitment from Ponsonby. The more that Pakuranga endeavoured to attack, the greater the Ponsonby defence. The blue and blacks tackled as though their lives depended on it, and they proudly defended their line during this ten minute period, not conceding a solitary point.
Just short of the halftime break, Ponsonby fed an attacking scrum 30 metres away from the visitor’s line. From the scrum base Tuamoheloa ran right, making tremendous ground, and raced untouched to the line, scoring out wide. Chico Huch converted from the sideline, stretching the lead to 22-3.
Ten minutes into the second spell, Ponsonby had a scrum feed away 15 metres away from the Pakuranga line. Tuamoheloa again took off on one of his sniping runs, drawing several defenders and a metre out from the line he popped a deft pass to the supporting Joel Joshi-Smith to dot down in the corner.
With Ponsonby’s lead now 27-3, their commitment to defence continued, but Pakuranga did not give up their resolve. After several minutes of chipping away and building, the visitors eventually found a way through and in the 64th minute they crossed for the first of their two tries.
Pakuranga crossed again in the 69th minute, and sensed a late comeback, but Ponsonby were not going to condone this.
A late rally by Ponsonby did not come to fruition, and they closed out the match at 27-15 in what must be described as an emphatic victory. Ponsonby had put in a gutsy performance against a very physical and determined Pakuranga side.
Tries: Josh Hawkins, Ji Young Lee, Roger Tuamoheloa and Joel Joshi-Smith
Penalty: Rob Sanele
Conversions: Rob Sanele and Chico Huch