The last match of the first round competition last Saturday had the Ponsonby Premiers drawn to face Otahuhu at Sturges Park. This match was essentially a clash between the team at the top of the table (Ponsonby) and the team at the bottom of the table. Ponsonby had already secured a spot in the Alan McEvoy Trophy round, so there was nothing at stake in this fixture, apart from Ponsonby wanting to retain their unbeaten record in 2018.
The Premiers crossed for 14 tries in the 84-10 spectacle, with winger Noah Mataia registering a hat trick. In a match which was extremely one-sided, the game was played with tremendous spirit and featured very few penalties.
This match saw a handful of changes to the run on squad from that which had performed so well against Eden in the previous round. Waha Waitohi, Brice Schilling and Tili Puloka were promoted from the bench to start against Otahuhu, whilst Noah Mataia was called into the team to cover for the unavailable Jordan Trainor.
Ponsonby’s first try of the match came in the opening minute, and from this moment the points came at a regular clip. A Ponsonby clearing kick was knocked on by Otahuhu, the ball falling into the arms of Steven Savali who charged down the right hand touchline. Play halted momentarily, and then went left, then back right again, reaching Savali who crossed the line. William Talataina-Mu converted.
The second try came in the 12th minute when the captain Aleks Dabek completed a move which had seen Ponsonby spend a lengthy period on attack.
Rocky Khan scored Ponsonby’s third try of the game, which was the result of an 80 metre sweeping move. Talataina-Mu initiated an entertaining passage of play, which included a strong burst by Taina Fox-Matamua. Khan slipped in at the right hand corner, the try being converted by Talataina-Mu, in what was his last act of the game, succumbing to a shoulder injury.
No sooner had Talataina-Mu retired from the game, his replacement Matai Fakautoki scored Ponsonby’s fourth, and bonus point try. The blue and blacks were awarded a penalty 25 metres from the Otahuhu line. A quick tap was taken, play going wide to Morrison Siliko who drew the final defender then offloading to Fakautoki to cross the line. Tili Puloka converted extending the score to 31-0.
Otahuhu recorded their first points of the game when they goaled a handy penalty in the 33rd minute.
From the restart Ponsonby went into the attack mode featuring a move that stretched 50 metres and some superb interchanging between backs and forwards. The move was finished by Puloka who dotted down beneath the posts, and then converted by Khan.
The Otahuhu restart failed to go the required 10 metres, Ponsonby being awarded a scrum on the halfway mark. From this scrum an incisive Siliko break took play agonisingly close to the Otahuhu line. Play went left to the left wing for Noah Mataia to cross in the corner. Khan added the extra points, extending the score to 45-3.
Early in the second spell Taina Fox-Matamua crashed over, followed in quick succession by Noah Mataia who scored his second, recording Ponsonby’s seventh and eighth tries of the match respectively.
With Ponsonby having the go forward impetus, players were rested and several others were injected to the game from the bench. One of the replacement props, Daniel Mau’u, charged over in the 53rd minute. The try was converted by replacement halfback Campbell Woodmass.
Morrison Siliko was having an outstanding match from fullback and was making tremendous territory on his many scything runs. Ponsonby took a quick tap penalty in the 57th minute, play going wide to Siliko to cross in the right hand corner.
A few minutes later Ponsonby were awarded a penalty just inside the Otahuhu half, the ball being drilled toward the corner. From the ensuing lineout the forwards drove to the line, Brice Schilling emerging with the ball in hand.
Otahuhu scored their solitary try of the game in the 68th minute from a tap penalty much to the delight of the home crowd, Ponsonby powerless to stop their momentum.
In the final ten minutes of the match Ponsonby crossed for their last two tries, the first by replacement winger Sam Tabuatamata then the last by Noah Mataia who registered his third.
Ponsonby now advance to the Alan McEvoy competition, the seven match round-robin starts next Saturday. In the competition the blue and blacks will square off with home games against Suburbs, University, Pakuranga and College Rifles, and away games against Suburbs, Grammar-Tec and Waitemata. Ponsonby will meet Grammar-Tec at their Orakei home ground at the earlier kick off time of 1.45pm next Saturday.
Tries: Noah Mataia 3, Morrison Siliko 2, Steven Savali, Aleks Dabek, Tili Puloka, Rocky Khan, Matai Fakautoki, Daniel Mau’u, Taina Fox-Matamua, Brice Schilling and Sam Tabuatamata
Conversions: William Talataina-Mu 2, Rocky Khan 3, Tili Puloka, Campbell Woodmass
1 Connor Halangahu; 2 Steven Savali; 3 Brice Schilling; 4 Jamie Lane; 5 Moteiva Ngauamo;
6 Waha Waitohi; 7 Aleks Dabek; 8 Taina Fox-Matamua; 9 Tatsuya Hamano;
10 Rocky Khanl 12 William Talataina-Mu; 11 Noah Mataia; 13 Patrick Tausie; 14 Tili Puloka;
15 Morrison Siliko;
16 Willie Uili; 17 Daniel Mau’u; 18 Sam Slade; 19 TJ Faalogo; 20 Campbell Woodmass;
21 Matai Fakautoki; 22 Sam Tabuatamata