Away vs Sydenham
Round 713th May 2017 - 2.45 Venue : Hospital Cnr 1
Result : 43 - 10
At Hospital Corner 1: Sydenham 43 (Kalave Auali’itia, Michael Green, Scott Kelly, Solomon Alaimalo, Matt James, Mike Herring tries; Kieran Lindsay 5 conv, pen) beat New Brighton 10 (John Vili, Rueben Spicer tries). HT: 17-5. Referee: Carl Johnson.
Sydenham supporters claim Scott Kelly can do everything except walk on water and after his magnificent man of the match performance against New Brighton perhaps they are right. The powerful No.8 was playing his 100th match and throughout the 80min he displayed the energy and enthusiasm of a player on debut. He set up the first try for veteran lock Kalave Auali’itia after 8min, scored one himself to give Sydenham a firm grip on the game on the hour then finished the game in style by kicking a sideline conversion. In between times he was making rampaging runs, burying opponents in bone-jarring tackles, winning lineouts, lobbing long one-handed passes to outside backs, and even grubber-kicking to the sideline. Kelly was a member of the Sydenham pack that had too much hulk and bulk for the seasiders. The scrum was dominant with New Brighton under all sorts of pressure to clear the ball from the back of scrums. And the usually reliable Brighton lineout, missing kingpin lock Ben Nelson through injury, lost five of its lineout throws. Although No.8 Aaron McCoy did make several ground-eating runs up the centre, the Brighton loose forwards were forced into mainly a defensive role and break outs were often nullified by lack of support. Sydenham held a 12-point cushion at the break after Auali’itia’s converted try was backed by a Kieran Lindsay penalty goal after 11min and an intercept try by centre Michael Green, who ran 75m, after 33min. Brighton’s only points of the half came after 19min. A 45m McCoy burst put Brighton on attack and earned it a penalty. Instead of kicking for goal or touch, first-five Scott Davidson spotted wing John Vili unmarked on the right flank and his pinpoint chip was gathered on the bounce by Vili, who celebrated his 50th senior appearance with a try. New Brighton enjoyed its best period early in the third quarter, although it still continued to make some silly errors, many of them through poor skills and lack of patience. When halfback and captain Rueben Spicer took a quick tap penalty 5m out and dived under the defensive wall to score after 56min his team was back in the game, trailing 17-10. But his good work was undone at the kick-off. Sydenham claimed the restart, worked into an attacking position and from a 5m scrum Kelly used his strength to power across. That gave Sydenham renewed confidence while sapping Brighton’s belief. There were three more tries for Sydenham in the last 15min, the dangerous right wing Solomom Alaimolo getting the first, deservedly so after being denied one in the first half after a slashing run through four tackles. Flanker Matt James galloped 15m for the second after wing Amanaki Nicole had ghosted down the left sideline and replacement wing Mike Herring dived over, taking the corner flag with him, in the final play. Sydenham’s pack worked well as a unit and given such a strong platform, the halves, Rueben Stewart and Kieran Linday, had time to direct play. Alaimalo, a replacement on the day for Tana Manu, made several scything runs. Brighton lacked fluency and turned over too much ball too easily. Spicer did a fine job clearing the ball under pressure and his covering tackle on Alaimalo saved a certain try. Centres Fili Waqainabete and Walter Huata both made incisive breaks but when support was needed it was not forthcoming. Hawkins Medal (MVP): Scott Kelly (Sydenham) 3, Solomon Alaimalo (Sydenham) 2, Rueben Spicer (New Brighton) 1. Bob Schumacher