Away vs Lincoln Uni
Round 11st April 2017 - 3.15pm Venue : Linfield 1
Result : 17 - 38
At Linfield Park 1: Lincoln University 38 (Josh McKay 2, Ngane Punivai, Nick Lake, Anty Burnett tries; Brett Cameron 5 conv, pen) beat New Brighton 17 (Stefan Moir, Nathan Ah Kee tries; Scott Davidson 2 conv, pen). HT: 14-7. Referee: Kane McBride. Sin-bins: Aaron McCoy (New Brighton), Dominic Devine, John Borland (both LU).
Coaches can be a hard lot to please at times.
Lincoln University’s 21-point bonus-point win over defending Hawkins Cup champion New Brighton would have most winning coaches doing somersaults, but head coach Dave Perrin had his feet firmly on the ground.
Sure he was happy to take the win, but he had a list of work-ons that will ensure the students do not have any easy training sessions during the week.
The scrum was penalised numerous times, the ball was turned over too readily and individuals let themselves down with their skill level on occasions. But for all that Lincoln was highly impressive when they got it right and the backline looks capable of ripping any opposition to shreds.
None started more spectacularly than centre Ngane Punivai, fresh from Christ’s College and a star of last season’s schoolboy competition. With his first touch in division one rugby he exploded through Brighton’s midfield, left fullback Stefan Moir smelling the Linfield turf and was over for the first try after 3min.
Lincoln had wait 23min before it crossed again, the architect this time being Crusaders forward Mitchell Dunshea. With Brighton attacking outside the 22m, Dunshea held up Brighton replacement halfback Matthew Burleigh, stripped him of the ball, and released it to his pacy backline.
In the twinkle of an eye right wing Josh McKay was sprinting away for the first of his two tries. Lincoln had much the better of the first half, but errors and a combative Brighton pack kept it scoreless and Brighton was back in the game on the call of a half-time with a well-taken try.
Unfortunately, Dunshea injured an elbow in the tackle and left in pain.
Moir featured twice in the Brighton try and he finished off the move he instigated by gathering a high looped infield pass from wing Henare Faithfull and stumbling to the line after being ankle-tapped a few metres out.
A Scott Davidson penalty 3min after the resumption had Brighton just four points behind, but Lincoln struck back and after a long period camped near the Brighton line – No.8 Aaron McCoy was sin-binned during this time – the backs, through wing Nick Lake, finished off the hard slog by the pack.
The restart determined the course of the match. A kick ahead went between Davidson and Faithfull and while they dithered McKay was in their face. Faithfull lost the ball, McKay gathered and had an open 50m race to the line.
Brighton kept hammering away through the forwards and replacement hooker Nathan Ah Kee hurtled himself through legs for his team’s second try. But Lincoln had the final say in the last minute with flanker Anty Burnett capitalising when Brighton ran out of defenders on the short side.
McKay impressed for Lincoln with his acceleration, anticipation, and ability to come off the line and assist in defence. Fellow wing Lake was also resourceful while first-five Brett Cameron succeeded with all six goal attempts, including one from the sideline, and he ran the cutter with aplomb.
Brighton stayed competitive in the forward battle with ageless hooker Marcel Cumming-Toone forever taking the ball up. Beanpole lock Ben Nelson supplied a steady amount of lineout ball, flanker Ryan Newman gave his all, and replacements, prop Carisbrook To’omalatai, hooker Ah Kee, and centre Alisi Tupuailei, all made an impact.
Hawkins Medal (MVP): Josh McKay (LU) 3, Marcel Cummings-Toone (New Brighton) 2, Brett Cameron (LU) 1.