Home vs Lincoln
Round 217th June 2017 - 2.45 Venue : Rawhiti
Result : 0 - 0
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY v NEW BRIGHTON At Rawhiti Domain: Lincoln University 30 (Jessie Houston 2, Ben Morris, George Stratton tries; Finn Strawbridge 2 conv, 2 pen) beat New Brighton 22 (Connor Pokoati, John Vili, Henare Faithfull tries; Stefan Moir 2 conv, pen). HT: 22-10. Referee: Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri.
On a bright sunny afternoon with perfect ground conditions, New Brighton and Lincoln University turned on a cracker of a game that wasn’t finally decided until the 77thmin. Both teams were sorely depleted through unavailability of front-line players and had to dig deep into their respective rugby gene pools to produce competitive sides. New Brighton went `back to the future’, recruiting rugby’s equivalent of `gold card’ holders with a number of veterans who hadn’t had a serious crack at this level for some time. In contrast, the students raided the local rugby equivalent of the pre-school, filling their team with a mix of fresh-faced youth with little or no experience on this stage. The resolve, nous and ticker of the seasiders, as the veterans relived past glories and their younger less experienced opponents stepped up in the spirit of youth and enthusiasm, produced a game of clean purposeful rugby, featuring end to end action and committed defence. New Brighton kicked off and were seven points up in 2min when a flat Lincoln clearing kick was charged down and prop Connor Pokoati went over. Stefan Moir converted and he kicked a penalty 6min later. Then the game settled into a pattern of cut-and-thrust that continued throughout the contest. Lack of cohesion that was evident at times when movements broke down because regular partners were missing created turnovers and counter-attacks that added to the excitement. The students were on the board in the 12thmin after putting together five phases with probes on the right before switching left for Ben Morris to score. Finn Strawbridge converted. By the 25thmin Lincoln had hit the front following a penalty kick into the corner, lineout win, and driving maul that wing Jessie Houston somehow got on the bottom off as it smashed over. Strawbridge converted and then extended the visitor’s lead with a penalty. On the cusp of half-time, Caleb Makene broke the New Brighton defence, and the resulting hard running, draw and pass strategy through the backs put Houston in for his second try to have the students ahead by 12 at the break. The home team started the second stanza with vigour and purpose. By the 55thmin they were level following a try to John Vili after a break and offload by Alisi Tupuailei. He repeated this 5min later to put Henare Faithfull over. Moir’s conversion locked it 22-all. Strawbridge kicked a penalty for Lincoln to restore the lead before some goal-line attack by the students and hard-nosed defence of their line by New Brighton tested the resolve and character of all participants, including the referee. For 7min the home team were nailed down inside their own 5m line. Forced to defend as the visitors mounted seven consecutive hits at the chalk and two attacking 5m scrums, before, in the second scrum, the home pack, with Carisbrooke To’omalatai featuring, blew Lincoln’s pack apart earning a relieving penalty. New Brighton had a chance to lock it up 70min in with a close-range penalty, but opted to kick to the corner. Winning the lineout, they drove right, then moved it quickly left to create the opportunity only to be denied as the final receiver’s foot touched the sideline a metre out with no defender in sight. Some Makene magic inside his own 22m in the 77thmin clinched the outcome. Running instead of kicking for touch, he found mates inside and outside him. The sheer pace and running lines of the faster students split the defence and George Stratton finished a piece of action that began 75m away. The match ended shortly after with the home team on attack seeking a bonus point. For the visitors, Hugo Nankivell towered at No.8 until subbed after playing himself to a standstill. Makene was solid on defence, and Stratton continually questioned New Brighton’s defensive resolve. en Morris toiled tirelessly in the set piece and tough stuff, while Strawbridge showed vision and composure. Standouts in the massive home effort were To’omalatai, who ensured the visitor’s scrum was severely tested, lock Ben Nelson and veteran Tupuailei, whose offloads and fringe defence were a feature. Flanker Joe Brock was tireless.
Hawkins Medal (MVP): Caleb Makene (Lincoln University) 3, Carisbrook To’omalatai (New Brighton) 2, George Stratton (Lincoln University) 1. Paddy Brandon