The Ponsonby Premiers kicked off their 2020 season campaign with a seven try, 48-16 drubbing of the University Premier side last Saturday afternoon. Anticipation of an absorbing fixture was high, given the superb underfoot conditions and the three month absence of Senior rugby. Those on hand would have been delighted at the entertainment presented at Western Springs Stadium.
This match became the inaugural encounter of the Williams-Fisher Cup, donated in honour of Sir Bryan ‘Beegee’ Williams and Rob Fisher.
For much of this match the blue and blacks played a spectacular brand of high tempo rugby, and it was evident that the squad were genuinely relishing the moment being back playing contact sport. There were few signs that they had not played a competition match for some 98 days, as their cohesion suggested that the team had been together a lot longer than a few mere weeks.
Of the match day squad of 23 against University, only eight featured in last years Gallaher Shield final, but the inclusion of several experienced campaigners and the addition of some new faces guaranteed an enjoyable spectacle.
The Ponsonby side went about their business right from the start, and searched for scoring opportunities, but the students defence was solid. After six minutes Ponsonby opted to kick for goal, but the Jordan Trainor attempt from a handy position was unsuccessful. However immediately following the blue and blacks then launched an assault on the visitor’s line, resulting in Danny Tusitala scoring in the left hand corner. Trainor was on target with the conversion from the touchline.
University’s Tyrone Elkington-McDonald put his side on the board in the 14th minute with a handy penalty goal, and Ponsonby’s Trainor responded a moment later.
Having points on the board buoyed University, and their backs exploited some ordinary Ponsonby defence, the outcome being a try scored out wide. Elkington-McDonald added the extra two points, levelling the scores at 10-all.
In the second quarter of the match Ponsonby added two further tries, firstly to Paul Roache after he charged down an attempted University clearing kick, and skilfully gathered the bouncing ball to score. Secondly Jonah Mau’u displayed some raw strength to break several tackles to score beneath the posts, both tries being converted by Trainor, and extending the home side lead to 24-10.
Right on the stroke of halftime Elkington-McDonald goaled a penalty to see the sides go to the break with Ponsonby ahead by 24-13.
As expected both sides commenced the second spell with renewed vigour.
It was Ponsonby that were first to add points in the new spell with a scintillating try. After stealing a University lineout feed, the Ponsonby backline produced some deceptive handling, including a period of marvellous work by Joel Cobb and Trainor, and it was Roache who left the defenders in his wake as he raced down the left touch for his second score of the match.
At the 50th minute mark University added a penalty goal to their score, closing the gap at 29-16.
From the ensuing restart Ponsonby then went into attack mode. Presley Tufuga and Ben Bacon combined in a clever move that bewildered the defence, and Bacon in his 86th Premier appearance who sold a superb dummy, unleashing replacement halfback Rilloy Suesue to scamper 45 metres to score the fifth try of the match. Trainor obliged with the conversion, seeing the score extend to 36-16.
After a lengthy absence from the club, prop Junior Halafuka was making his presence felt in the scrum and he too was relishing the opportunity being back in the team colours. He barged over next to the posts scoring the sixth try of the afternoon.
Ponsonby’s final try of the match came from a sublime backline move which featured some splendid running by William Talataina-Mu and Trainor, and the lengthy move included some blistering pace by the versatile Tusitala who dotted down out wide.
The blue and blacks will justifiably be delighted at their start to the 2020 season, and now turn their attention to next weeks fixture against College Rifles in Remuera. College Rifles, by their own admission, were patchy in their 52-6 defeat of East Tamaki in the first round. But they will be well prepared for the Ponsonby visit next week and will most certainly produce a huge performance.
Tries: Paul Roache 2, Danny Tusitala 2, Jonah Mau’u, Rilloy Suesue and Junior Halafuka
Conversions: Jordan Trainor 5
Penalty: Jordan Trainor
Article added: Sunday 21 June 2020