Ponsonby’s fullback Jordan Trainor crossed for four tries and kicked three conversions for a personal tally of 26 points last Saturday afternoon when the Premiers journeyed to South Auckland to tackle East Tamaki in the latest round of the 2018 club competition.
The blue and blacks crossed for eight tries in total in the match, running out the victors by 46-13 after leading by 15-6 at the break. The weather gods again delivered some very dreary conditions in the morning of the match, but the rain subsided prior to kick off, providing a reasonable spectacle for the crowd on hand.
Coming into this round of the competition the bottom placed East Tamaki were still searching for their first win, having conceded 159 points from the first four matches, whilst scoring only 31.
The Ponsonby starting XV for the East Tamaki match contained no fewer than ten changes from that which had started against University the previous week. The Ponsonby coaching team took the opportunity to start several players that had warmed the bench in the earlier rounds. Sam Slade captained the side from lock.
Ponsonby were patchy in the opening quarter and struggled to get their combinations working cohesively, including having issues at lineout time.
Approaching the 20th minute mark in the half Freedom Vaha’akolo was felled in a dangerous tackle, which earned the East Tamaki offender a spell in the sinbin. The ensuing penalty goal attempt from a handy position was missed, but from the restart Ponsonby capitalised. Play went wide from an attacking scrum 40 metres out, finding Trainor in midfield. The fullback had to reach for the awkward pass, and with the ball safely in hand was able to successfully race to the corner.
East Tamaki had attempted several clearing kicks, but too often they failed to find the touchline, some falling into the arms of Vaha’akolo. One such touchfinder in the 27th minute was taken by the right winger who ran round his marker with ease, and with some excellent support from Trainor and Campbell Woodmass, play went to Jamie Lane to complete the 55 metre move.
The home side started feeding of Ponsonby errors, and used the territory wisely. They subsequently recorded the first of their two penalty goals in the 34th minute, taking the score to 10-3 in Ponsonby’s favour.
Moments later Vaha’akolo fielded yet another attempted touchfinder and took play back into the East Tamaki half. Play swept some 50 metres, with Patrick Tausie going very close. After play went to ground, the ball went wide across the field to Matt Foote who crossed in the right hand corner.
The home side goaled their second penalty just short of the halftime whistle.
Trainor crossed for his second try early in the new spell. William Talataina-Mu cleared from inside the Ponsonby 22, finding touch deep inside the East Tamaki territory. A quick throw in and then an attempted clearing kick fell sweetly for Trainor who set sail toward the line. Support was present in the form of John Cooper, who then returned the ball to Trainor to race beneath the posts. He converted his own try, stretching the lead to 22-6.
He registered his hattrick in the 53rd minute, picking up a well-timed Matai Fakautoki grubber kick, and racing to the line. Trainor again converted his own try, extending the Ponsonby score to 29-6.
Just two minutes later East Tamaki launched an assault on the Ponsonby territory, but spilled a pass close to the halfway mark. Tausie was swift to the loose ball, scooping it up cleanly and displaying a clean set of heels on a 50 metre run to the line, successfully staying clear of the would-be defenders. Trainor added the extra two points, taking the score to 36-6.
Ponsonby’s seventh try of the match was scored by Vaha’akolo, who was set loose 35 metres out, and had some work to do, but crossed out wide.
At 41-6 ahead Ponsonby had done the hard yards, but were unable to prevent East Tamaki from a significant advance toward their line. The move was judged to be dragged down short. The result was a penalty try in East Tamaki’s favour, and a Ponsonby man heading to the sinbin.
In the dying seven minutes, and with a man down, Ponsonby were still able to apply some extensive pressure to their opposites, and eventually Trainor crossed for his fourth try of the encounter.
With five minutes to run the referee decided that everyone needed a break, so he called full time.
Next week’s penultimate round of the competition promises to be a real cracker of a match when Ponsonby square off against Eden, in what is a first versus second place in the competition fixture at Western Springs Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Eden have been one of the top performing sides in the competition for the past two seasons and have taken numerous prized scalps. Eden had no trouble in the last round despatching Waitakere City by 71-5
Ponsonby underestimated the might of Eden in the 2017 season, going down by 27-17.
Fast forward to 2018 and Ponsonby faced Eden in the final of the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup just five weeks ago, and in what was a physical encounter the blue and blacks edged their neighbours by 34-30.
Back at home next week many will be hoping for a break from the rain that seems to fall on a Friday night nowadays, to provide club rugby with some better underfoot playing conditions.
Tries: Jordan Trainor 4, Matt Foote, Jamie Lane, Patrick Tausie and Freedom Vaha’akolo
Conversions: Jordan Trainor 3
1 Brice Schilling; 2 Steven Savali; 3 Wilson Lavelua; 4 Sam Slade;
5 Jamie Lane; 6 McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga; 7 Matt Foote; 8 Tipolo Jr Faalogo;
9 Campbell Woodmass; 10 William Talataina-Mu; 11 John Cooper; 12 Aleni Ropati;
13 Patrick Tausie; 14 Freedom Vaha’akolo; 15 Jordan Trainor; 16 Matangireia Yates-Francis;
17 Herman Huch; 18 Connor Halangahu; 19 Moteivo Ngauamo; 20 Tatsuya Hamano;
21 Matai Fakautoki; 22 Cole Garrick