PREMIERS OPEN CAMPAIGN WITH SOLID VICTORY
The Premiers kicked off their 2018 Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield competition last Saturday afternoon with a 58-3 win over Waitakere City. The blue and blacks scored ten tries in the demolition of the West Aucklanders and whilst the match was not always vintage rugby, the coaching team will be satisfied with the result and the five competition points.
The underfoot conditions would always be a factor in the match due to heavy rain leading to kick off. The inclement weather did subside before the opening exchanges, greatly aiding ball handling throughout the match.
Ponsonby were always going to have too much pace for the Waitakere City side, and the visitors cause was not helped when they lost a man to a ‘red card’ offence in just the sixth minute of the match. To their credit, they rallied on and played an expansive game, defending gallantly and disrupting Ponsonby’s game-plan regularly.
Ponsonby opened their scoring account in the third minute of the encounter when an attempted clearing kick by Waitakere City failed to find the touchline. Freedom Vaha’akolo, who was to become a dynamic attacking force from fullback in this game, gladly accepted the kick and took play deep into the visitor’s territory. Some good support followed and eventually space was created for Noah Mataia to stroll over in the left hand corner. The try went unconverted.
Vaha’akolo was a key in Ponsonby’s second try, when from an attacking scrum on the visitors 22 metre mark play went right and with an incisive break from the fullback, John Cooper was able to dot down in the right hand corner. This try also went unconverted.
Both playing ranks on the field were evened up midway through the first spell for ten minutes when Ponsonby lost Steven Savali to the sinbin for an infringement. During this period neither side was able to gain any ascendency, despite some promising attempts.
It wasn’t until the return of Savali to the onfield XV that Ponsonby were able to complete an assault on the visitor’s line. A driving maul to the line saw the skipper for the day, Aleks Dabek, emerge with the ball amidst a mass of bodies. The unconverted try saw the lead move to 15-0.
A few minutes later Vaha’akolo again was a key component in an attack on the visitors line. He made an incisive break down the right hand touch, freeing Cooper to score his second try of the afternoon.
Ponsonby’s one man advantage on the field was gradually becoming evident, as almost immediately another try scoring opportunity came, finished off by the lock Moteiva Ngauamo.
The sides turned at the break with Ponsonby leading by 25-0, having scored five unconverted tries.
Just one minute into the new half Ponsonby extended their lead further. From the restart by the visitors, an extensive interchange swept up the field. The move featured a clean break through the midfield by Tili Puloka, in addition to the handling and support of most of the forward pack, the 70 metre move was eventually finished off under the posts by Morrison Siliko. Cooper added the extra two points.
Ponsonby’s seventh try was scored by replacement hooker Willie Uili. Jamie Lane dragged the ball down from the lineout a few metres from the Waitakere City line. A rolling maul ensued, and as he has done so often in the past, Uili skilfully eased the maul to the line and crashed over. Cooper again converted, stretching his side’s advantage to 39-0.
The eighth try was finished off by the winger Cooper, who was enjoying the opportunity to run in the open spaces. A deft break by William Talataina-Mu, scything through the defence, and in support was Cooper who had come to the left hand side of the field to score his third of the match. The try went unconverted, and Ponsonby had now raced out to a 44-0 lead.
With 12 minutes to go, Waitakere City was awarded a penalty 30 metres out from their line. Rather than attempt a five or seven pointer, they opted for the three points on offer.
Talataina-Mu displayed his pace and skills when he sprinted down the right hand touch as one of the key contributors in his side’s ninth try. The extended move was completed under the posts by replacement tight forward Tipolo Jr Faalogo. Cooper added the additional two points, and the blue and blacks now lead by 51-3, and Cooper had bagged 21 for the match.
With time almost up, Ponsonby were awarded a five metre scrum, and as the scrum drove toward the line a Waitakere City forward saw the opportunity to disrupt the promising move. Referee Angus Mabey saw no option but award a penalty try.
Ponsonby will be encouraged by the 58-3 hiding of Waitakere City, and will be buoyed by the exciting talent in the 2018 ranks, which may see a selection headache or two for the coaching team and management. They will now focus their attention to next week’s opponent, Pakuranga, which is to be played on their home ground at Bell Park. Pakuranga had a satisfying 50-8 win on Saturday over East Tamaki at the East Tamaki Domain. Ponsonby did battle with Pakuranga on two occasions in 2017. The honours in the first encounter in April, played at Pakuranga, were taken by the homeside by 31-13. In the second, played in July at Western Springs, Ponsonby were the victors by 37-19.
Tries: J Cooper 3, N Mataia, A Dabek, M Ngauamo, M Siliko, W Uili, J Faalogo. Penalty try.
Con: J Cooper 3
1. R Cobb; 2. S Savali; 3. H Huch; 4. M Ngauamo; 5. J Lane; 6. W Riedlinger-Kapa; 7. M Foote
8. A Dabek; 9. M Siliko; 10. W Faiane; 11. N Mataia; 12. W Talataina-Mu; 13. T Puloka;
14. J Cooper; 15. F Vaha’akolo; 16. B Schilling; 17. C Halangahu; 18. W Uili;
19. T Jr Faalogo; 20. M Cocker-Filikitonga; 21. T Hamano; 22. S Fakapelea