Home vs Shirley
Round 927th May 2017 - 2.45 Venue : Rawhiti 1
Result : 26 - 19
At Rawhiti 1: New Brighton 26 (Walter Huata 2, Reuben Spicer, Stefan Moir tries; Scott Davidson 2 conv; Moir conv) beat Shirley 19 (Jud Robbins 2, Jayden Pearce tries; Nathan Smith 2 conv). HT: 14- 7. Referee: Carl Johnson. Sin-bin: Alisi Tupuailei (New Brighton).
It was neither pretty nor easy, but New Brighton banked the maximum five points in this keenly fought eastern suburbs derby. Had this match become an arm wrestle up front there was little doubt Shirley would have finished on top for it held a significant advantage in the scrums and had more lineout options than New Brighton which relied almost solely on its biggest timber, lock Lucas Hill. However, away from the set pieces Brighton matched Shirley in the loose, forcing breakdown turnovers and defending the fringes with vigour. And once the ball was released to the backlines there was little question Brighton’s was the more penetrative. Assisted by a wind that died in the second half, Brighton had its first try after 15min from a 5m lineout drive. While the forwards were unable to make the line, they committed Shirley numbers to the drive and when it popped back for halfback Reuben Spicer he spied nobody at home on the short side. The scores were tied after 20min after Shirley No.8 Jud Robbins capitalised on his team’s scrum supremacy. The Shirley pack shunted its Brighton counterpart 7m back over the line and if referee Carl Johnson hadn’t spotted Robbins’ hands on the ball he may have awarded a penalty try. Late in the first half, Brighton scored its second try which started from replacement flanker Ben Rush effecting a turnover at the breakdown near Shirley’s 22m. First-five Scott Davidson ran a nice angle at pace and second-five Walter Huata finished with a spectacular swan dive. The seven-point half-time lead increased to 12 when Stefan Moir scored in the right corner after Davidson placed a lovely cross-kick to his fullback. Even so it could have been prevented for Shirley prop Tawhiri Wharehinga was on duty on the flank. It was big man versus little man with the aerial skills of the little man prevailing. After 49min Brighton scored its bonus-point try with Huata scoring his second after a scything run. Ahead 26-7 the ball was in Brighton’s court, but Shirley did all the scoring in the last half hour, wing Jayden Pearce chasing a kick through by captain and flanker Phil Watson on the blindside and winning the race to score after 56min. Then Robbins had his second try – and he could have had three but for dropping the ball over the line early in the second half – with a good show of strength as Shirley’s forwards repeatedly attacked in the red zone. With 13min to play, Shirley had closed the gap to seven, but it stayed that way and Brighton did most of the attacking in the last stages with block-busting centre Alisi Tupuailei twice held up on the line. Moir, first at fullback then at first-five, impressed with his attacking prowess and kicking for position. Huata caused problems for Shirley’s midfield defence with his uncompromising running and wings John Vili and Fili Waqainabete both made several incisive runs and may have scored with more selfbelief. Rush, apart from one handling lapse which led to Pearce’s try, did a fine job off the bench while Hill, No.8 Louis Harmon and hooker Feleti Kaitu’u ensured the battling Brighton pack did not capitulate. Shirley’s tight five did a commendable job in set pieces and Robbins and Watson were competitive to the end. The backs mostly were well contained, although wing Elliot Scott made one dazzling run in the last quarter as Shirley sought a converted try for the draw.
Hawkins Medal (MVP): Stefan Moir (New Brighton) 3, Walter Huata (New Brighton) 2, Jud Robbins (Shirley) 1