At Western Springs Stadium on Saturday afternoon the Ponsonby Premiers nine match winning streak came to an end when they fell to their Papatoetoe opposites by 32-22. The result also saw the Sir Fred Allen Challenge Cup awarded to the visitors.
The loss sees Ponsonby sitting in third place on the competition table on 13 points, with matches to play against Marist, Suburbs and College Rifles, the intensity and pressure will now increase for the blue and blacks to be amongst the all-important top four qualifiers.
Signs were ominous right from the start when Papatoetoe stole Ponsonby’s first two lineout throws, both from penalty’s which had been drilled to touch. Papatoetoe showed that they were here to play some serious rugby.
The third penalty in the match however was also awarded to Ponsonby, and this was within range of the goalposts. William Talataina-Mu duly slotted the kick between the uprights.
The first try in the game was also recorded to Ponsonby. From an attacking scrum on the visitors ten metre mark play went to Morrison Siliko who burst into the line from the left wing, and Charlie Hubert chimed in from fullback, play going wide to Joe Beckett who raced to the right hand corner. Talataina-Mu added a magnificent conversion from the touchline.
In the last ten minutes of the half Papatoetoe scored two excellent tries, the first came when they caught the Ponsonby defence unaware and the second when they were able to capitalise on some wrong option taking by the blue and blacks.
The visitors then rounded of the half with a penalty goal, seeing them go to the break ahead by 15-10.
Papatoetoe scored the opening try in the second half, when they were able to stroll through some average Ponsonby defence, the try being scored in the left hand corner, but not being converted.
Ponsonby struck back almost immediately. A good run by Charlie Hubert resulted in Marco Fepuleai crossing for a try, which brought Ponsonby back to within five points of the visitors at 20-15.
Papatoetoe were showing signs of confidence and were forcing Ponsonby into many uncharacteristic errors, and were winning turnovers with considerable ease.
The visitors crossed for their fourth try in the 49th minute, once again giving them a ten point advantage.
Ponsonby toiled away, but were struggling to break the Papatoetoe defensive line.
Eventually an opportunity came. In the 64th minute Ponsonby had a scrum feed five metres from the visitors line, and a simple move involving Presley Tufuga and Laki Tiatia allowed Morrison Siliko to cross for the try which was converted by Talataina-Mu.
Down by 25-22, Ponsonby continued to search for the win, and with two minutes remaining on the clock they had a golden opportunity. On attack, with an overlap and just metres from the visitors line a long cut out pass was intercepted by the Papatoetoe fullback who had the gas to race 97 metres to the other end for a try, which was converted.
Jubilation for Papatoetoe, and heartbreak for Ponsonby.
In the curtain raiser on the main ground at Western Springs Stadium between the Ponsonby Under 21’s and their Grammar-Tec opposites, a late penalty try saw victory go to Grammar-Tec by 23-22.
However the day was not all doom and gloom for Ponsonby. The Premier Reserves continued their winning ways with a resounding 52-5 win over their Papatoetoe opposites, Ponsonby scoring eight tries.
Played on the outer field at Western Springs the two sides endured some of the worst weather conditions in the first half seen in Auckland on a Saturday afternoon for many years. Despite the pitch being soft and slippery, Ponsonby were magnificent in most facets of the game.
Ponsonby will now focus on their fifth round match of the competition which is to be played against Marist on their home ground in Panmure next Saturday afternoon. After four rounds Marist are still in search of their first victory. To date, they have drawn with Waitemata, and lost to Suburbs, Grammar-Tec and Pakuranga. In the most recent round they lost to Pakuranga by 30-22, the loss leaving them languishing at the tail of the competition table on three points.