Home vs Sydenham
Round 224th June 2017 - 2.45 Venue : Rawhiti
Result : 14 - 45
At Rawhiti Domain: Sydenham 45 (Ash Hyde 3, Amanaki Nicole, Michael Green, Scott Kelly, Ila Lamositele tries; Pedro Verschea 5 conv) beat New Brighton 14 (Feleti Kaitu’u, Ali Hala tries; Stefan Moir conv; James Mangin conv). HT: 31-0. Referee: Blair Barclay. Sin-bin: Ben Nelson (New Brighton).
New Brighton senior players of the last decade may be receiving a phone call from head coach Scott Pawson as the seasiders endure their worst injury crisis for many years. The number of players Brighton has called upon this season has now reached 42 as former players such as Ryan Hooper and division two players such as veteran Doug Stewart have answered SOS calls. Against a confident Sydenham side, New Brighton failed to step up in the first half and the coaching staff was not afraid to call it embarrassing as the Cardinals stormed to a 31-0 lead through five welltaken tries with three of them converted. There were two options available to the home team in the second half. Come out with heads down and concede a cricket score or muscle up and play with the pride and passion associated with Brighton teams in recent seasons. The seasiders adopted the second option and were much more competitive in the second half. The scrum, which was bullied in the first 40min, suddenly had Sydenham’s scrum going backwards and the replacements brought added energy and enthusiasm. The smooth functioning Sydenham unit misfired at times with passes dropped and ball turned over. So while honours were shared, 14-14, in the second 40min it cannot take away from the dominance of Sydenham in the first half. Tries came regularly, the first from a team effort with lightweight openside flanker Jay Smith sparking it with a 20m midfield break which wing Amanaki Nicole finished in the left corner. Then the forwards had their try after 18min with Kalavi Auali’itia winning an attacking lineout, No.8 Scott Kelly taking the ball to the line and loose-head prop Ash Hyde, in his 50th appearance, burrowing over it. The backs had their try after 23min with Canterbury representative Michael Green, on the left wing, stepping inside two weak tackles to cross easily. Hyde was gifted his second try 4min later when Green broke clear and unselfishly handed the ball to his supporting prop. The fifth try after 35min came from a 5m scrum with Kelly proving unstoppable. When Hyde crashed over for his third try after Sydenham’s scrum won a tight-head 2min into the second half, the signs were ominous for Brighton, but the home team showed plenty of pluck, defending with much more accuracy and vigour and taking the attack to its opponent. Sydenham’s seventh and final try came after 58min when replacement flanker Ila Lamisotele drove over from a 5m scrum when Brighton had lock Ben Nelson in the sin-bin. Either side of that the home team scored twice. The first came from a penalty kick to the corner and a controlled drive with hooker Feleti Kaitu’u the recipient and the second in the closing stages when replacement wing Ali Hala did well to force the ball in the corner in a double tackle. Sydenham’s first-half patience and poise was the defining difference. Every player knew his role and carried it out efficiently. Smith was a live-wire flanker, Hyde revelled in the close-quarter play and could be excused for showing fatigue in the final minutes, while Auali’itia and Kelly made significant contributions in the first 40min. Green was a class act in his 50min on the field and the backline attack suffered some impotency once he was subbed. Nobody gritted it out better than Brighton tight-head prop Carisbrooke To’omalatai, who was still hitting it up in the final minutes despite a shoulder injury. Nelson did his core jobs well and Kaitu’u made good impact off the bench.
Hawkins Medal (MVP): Ash Hyde (Sydenham) 3, Michael Green (Sydenham) 2, Carisbrooke To’omalatai (New Brighton) 1. Bob Schumacher