Their win on Saturday afternoon over Grammar-TEC in the final round of the Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield competition secured the Ponsonby Premiers a spot in next week’s Gallaher Shield semi-finals. Ponsonby will face University at Colin Maiden Park in St Johns in a sudden death encounter.
Against Grammar-TEC the Ponsonby side crossed for six tries in the 36-26 victory, earning them a valuable bonus point which was crucial in their quest for the semi-final place.
To clinch that spot in the finals Ponsonby not only needed a bonus point win against Grammar-TEC, but they also needed the result of at least one other competition match to go their way on Saturday. That came from the Eden and Suburbs encounter, with Eden unable to record a bonus point in their 23-21 win, which saw them miss out on the playoffs.
Ponsonby finished the round robin on equal points with College Rifles, but as the blue and blacks won that encounter back on the 10th of June they sneak into third place on the table, leaving Rifles with the unenviable task of doing battle with Suburbs at Shadbolt Park next Saturday.
The Ponsonby and Grammar-TEC match was played in superb conditions and the ground was perfect for an open running game, which Ponsonby were intent on playing.
In the opening minute Keenan Masina ran a perfect line on a 40 metre dash to the line for the first of Ponsonby’s six tries.
Just two minutes later a magnificent break by the athletic Presley Tufuga saw Ponsonby go back onto the attack. A well-executed grubber kick by William Talataina-Mu in behind the defence was gathered by Tilitili Puloka who scored out wide.
With three minutes on the clock Ponsonby had raced out to a 10-0 lead, and the frenetic and high paced game was not showing signs of slowing.
Ponsonby fed a lineout five metres from their own line, which was stolen by Grammar-TEC. The home side distributed the ball through their backline, and looked to have a created perfect overlap. However the vigilant Pryor Collier was lurking, and took his chance, grabbing an intercept and racing 95 metres to score. Talataina-Mu added the extra two points.
Grammar-TEC were unable to halt Ponsonby’s dominance of the match and had no answer for the fast pace and outstanding skills displayed by the blue and blacks.
At the mid-way stage in the first spell, Ponsonby nabbed a Grammar-TEC lineout, the loose forward trio combining in a move that would finish 80 metres down field. The mixture of pace and slick passing by Waha Waitohi, Aleks Dabek and Presley Tufuga saw play streak down the left hand touch, the final pass going to Charles Napa’a who crossed for Ponsonby’s fourth, and bonus point try. The successful conversion extended Ponsonby’s lead to 24-0, after as many minutes.
Ponsonby took their 24-0 lead to the halftime break, and knew that a lot of work was still required to take the win. On three occasions in the first half Grammar-TEC were agonisingly close to the Ponsonby line, but were unable to convert their possession and territory into points.
The halftime message from the Grammar-TEC management seemed to work, and in the first minute of the second spell the winger Kitione Taimani showed some remarkable pace on a 60 metre solo run to score. Jono Hickey added the extra two points.
Ponsonby were able to strike back soon after when Tili Puloka crossed for his second try.
Grammar-TEC continued to look for opportunities to score, and in the 56th minute of the match a dropped pass by one of their front rowers was snapped up by Keenan Masina who dashed to the line. Pryor Collier added the extra two points by way of a drop kick, taking the score to 36-7 in Ponsonby’s favour.
At the halfway point in the spell TJ Vaega crossed in the right hand corner for Grammar-TECs second try. Hickey added the conversion from the sideline.
In the final 13 minutes Grammar-TEC enjoyed a wealth of possession, crossing for two more tries, firstly to Lisati Milo-Harris and then to Matthew Storm,.
Ponsonby will now focus on next week’s encounter with University, and a win would see them advance to the Gallaher Shield final on the 29th of July. Despite Ponsonby being victorious over University less than three weeks ago, the students too will be eager for an opportunity to hold the coveted trophy aloft in a little over a week.
Ponsonby 36 (T Puloka 2, K Masina 2, C Napa’a, P Collier tries, W Talataina-Mu 2, P Collier conv)
Grammar TEC 26 (K Taimani, TJ Vaega, L Milo-Harris, M Storm tries, J Hickey 3 conv)
Halftime: 24 - 0
Other Senior Results from the weekend
- Premier Development 54 Marist 15
- U20's 19 Papatoetoe 43
- First Grade EP's 40 East Tamaki 7
- Restricted U85's 36 College Rifles 17
- Fillies WBD v East Coast Bays
- Falcons 30 Suburbs 20