Another commanding performance from the Ponsonby Premiers forward pack paved the way for a 67-21 trouncing of East Tamaki in the penultimate match of the first round on Saturday afternoon. The victory sees the Pita Fatialofa Memorial Trophy continue its residence at the Ponsonby’s Western Springs Stadium.
This victory assured Ponsonby of a spot amongst the top four sides from its group who will progress to the next round – the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield competition, which commences on the 3rd of June.
Ponsonby outscored 10 tries to three against East Tamaki, and have now amassed 191 points in the previous three fixtures, whilst only conceding 31 points.
Against a physical East Tamaki side, Ponsonby were relentless on attack, and solid on defence. Jamie Lane and Sam Ulufonua were dominant in the lineouts, with Lane able to intercept several of the visitor’s feeds with considerable ease. In the loose Waha Waitohi, Waimana Riedinger-Kapa and Taina Fox-Matamua were imposing, ensuring East Tamaki were starved of possession.
For the second consecutive week, the Ponsonby backline displayed some sublime and silky skills, this group of young men contributing nine of the ten tries recorded.
The first try of the match came with only 25 seconds on the clock. An East Tamaki touchfinder kick was claimed by Freedom Vaka’akolo, who quickly threw the ball into an unmarked Stephen Perofeta who raced to the line, much to the shock of the visiting team. The conversion from William Talataina-Mu was successful, and the blue and blacks had a very early 7-0 lead.
Perofeta recorded Ponsonby’s second try after he threw a perfect dummy pass, then sliced through a narrow gap to score beneath the posts. The conversion stretched Ponsonby’s lead to 14-0 after 11 minutes of play.
Stephen Perofeta was a major factor in Ponsonby’s domination early on, and extended his personal tally to 13 with a handy penalty goal in the 15th minute.
East Tamaki tightened their game, and began to challenge Ponsonby at the breakdown, and became more committed to the tackle.
It was another 15 minutes before Ponsonby could register more points.
During a period of spirited play by East Tamaki, an attempt to drive out of their own half resulted in numerous wild passes being exchanged amongst themselves and it was inevitable that one would eventually go astray. A vigilant Freedom Vaha’akolo latched onto a pass and ran in a straight line to the whitewash to record Ponsonby’s third try of the match.
From the ensuing restart Ponsonby set onto the attack from deep inside their half. Some excellent work initially by the loose forward trio took play close to the halfway mark, then a great run by replacement prop Junior Halafuka, allowed Vaha’akolo to sprint to the line, crossing for his second try in as many minutes. Ponsonby had a very respectable 31-0 lead with five minutes to play in the first spell.
In the last few minutes of the half the visitors started to put some phases together and eventually found some defensive gaps. A quick tap penalty saw them cross for their first score of the afternoon.
The first penalty of the second half went Ponsonby’s way and a scintillating move involving many of the team was finished by Vaha’akolo, scoring his third of the match.
The visitors notched up their second score of the game in the 46th minute. A penalty in their favour on the Ponsonby 10 metre line saw them make some significant ground, the promising move seeing them close to scoring in the left hand corner. The ball was recycled and play came to the right, and the try was scored.
At the three quarter mark of the game East Tamaki were awarded a lineout feed ten metres from the Ponsonby line. With some intervention from the blustery breeze, the lineout throw went the way of Ponsonby. The replacement halfback Shigeru Kohiyama quickly gathered the ball, feeding his captain Waha Waitohi, who ran a direct line through the defence to score under the posts. Perofeta added the extra two points, taking the score to 43-14 in Ponsonby’s favour.
Ponies next try again included some tremendous team work and outstanding support play, and with Presley Tufuga displaying his usual athleticism and strength, the final pass went to Pryor Collier who sprinted down the left hand touch to score in the corner.
East Tamaki went onto the attack once more, making the game look like a seven a side match rather than a Premier rugby fixture. This assault on the Ponsonby side lasted several minutes, however the fatigue on their side was very obvious and possession changed hands inside the Ponsonby 22 metre area. A quick pass from Kohiyama went to Jordan Trainor, who broke a couple of tackles and then displayed some blistering pace on his 80 metre dash to the tryline. Perofeta converted the Trainor try, taking the score out to 55-14.
The fatigue factor was now telling on the Ponsonby side, and East Tamaki took their chances from another quick tap penalty, adding another seven pointer.
From the restart the visitors looked to attack yet again, but failed to observe Declan O’Donnell lurking and looking for an intercept opportunity. O’Donnell seized his chances with both hands and set sail on a 40 metre run to the line.
With time virtually up on the clock East Tamaki were not going to lie down and continued to seek their fourth try of the match, but their plans failed to materialise. A stray ball was uplifted by O’Donnell who ran round the tiring defence, touching down for his second of the match.
Next weeks final match of the round has Ponsonby away to Marist at their Dunkirk Rd headquarters. Marist have not enjoyed the most happiest of seasons to date in 2017 with two wins from their six outings. In their most recent fixture last Saturday they despatched lowly placed Otahuhu by 32-12 after leading by a slender 10-5 at the break. Marist always rise to the occasion against Ponsonby and with a lengthy history between the two clubs, and the Tom Johns Memorial Cup at stake, Marist are certain to have saved their best performance of the season for this fixture.
Tries: Freedom Vaha’akolo 3, Stephen Perofeta 2, Declan O’Donnell 2, Pryor Collier, Jordan Trainor, Waharai Waitohi tries,
Conversions: William Talataina-Mu 4, Stephen Perofeta 2, Jordan Trainor
Penalty: Stephen Perofeta
East Tamaki 21
Tries: T Moala, K Manu, J Liaina
Conversions: T Iosua 3