The Premiers season came to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon when they were defeated by University 27-22 in the Gallaher Shield semi-final.
Played at Colin Maiden Park in damp and often blustery conditions, Ponsonby scored three tries and trailed by 17-15 at the halftime break.
Ponsonby were forced to start this match without a recognised first five eighth after William Talataina-Mu was picked up by Southland for the forthcoming Mitre 10 Cup competition and was urgently required in Invercargill for training, throwing Ponsonby's pre-match preparations into disarray. The task of playing in this pivotal position against University was handed to winger Tilitili Puloka, who reportedly had never played here previously.
Ponsonby started strongly, and in the opening minutes a beautiful break by Keenan Masina freed Patrick Tausie to crash over the line, but the University defenders were able to turn him on his back, preventing the ball from being grounded. From the ensuing five metre scrum Ponsonby then constructed some good forward momentum and Robert Cobb charged over for the opening try. Jordan Trainor added the extra two points, giving Ponsonby a handy 7-0 lead.
Soon after both University put their first points on the board, a penalty goal from the boot of Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald.
Trainor then responded for Ponsonby with a magnificent 50 metre effort.
Midway through the first spell Ponsonby attempted an attacking move down the left hand flank, only to have Pryor Collier unnecessarily taken out of play. The subsequent penalty was drilled to the corner for the lineout. From the following ruck, Waha Waitohi stretched out to score. The Trainor conversion shaved the upright.
In the final six minutes of the half, University added two converted tries, giving them a 17-15 advantage on the scoreboard at the break.
University commenced the second half with their restart being kicked out on the full. From the scrum on the halfway mark Ponsonby were able to make some good ground, which included an outstanding run by the young prop Robert Cobb. Play then went to the left and Tausie crossed in the corner. Trainor added the extra two points from the sideline.
Ponsonby missed a penalty goal from 35 metes out in the 51st minute, these three points would have been beneficial.
In the 57th minute University regained the lead after they scored their third try following the charge down of an attempted Ponsonby clearing kick. Their successful conversion gave them back the lead in the match at 24-22.
With six minutes to play University added a penalty goal stretching their lead to 27-22.
In the final four minutes Ponsonby set up camp just metres from the University line. Despite being awarded a handful of penalties and scrums, Ponsonby were unable to break the impenetrable University defensive line.
Tries: Robert Cobb, Waha Waitohi and Patrick Tausie
Conversions: Jordan Trainor 2
Penalty: Jordan Trainor