Three leading WRFU representative teams in action in competition matches on Saturday all lost close games, while the Wellington U18s and two Wellington U16 teams won their matches well. The Wellington Pride, Wellington Maori and Wellington U20s all missed out to their opposition. Meanwhile, Wellington’s U18 team pulled clear to beat the Centurions in the first round of the Hurricanes U18 tournament and the U16 A and Development teams had comfortable wins in preparations for their upcoming tournaments.
At Cambridge, the Wellington Pride went down to Waikato 20-24 in round three of the Women’s NPC. The Pride were left ruing a slow start in which Waikato crossed the tryline three times and leapt to a match winning lead midway by midway through the first half.
The Pride came back and dominated the second half, but were unable to overtake the Waikato side. The Pride scored four tries and took two bonus points from the loss. The trysorers were props Muteremoana Aiatu and Rebecca Liua’ana and blindside flanker Kiri Mei (2).
The Pride’s next match is at Westpac Stadium this coming Saturday against the Auckland Storm, in a replay of last year’s final.
At Napier, the Wellington U20s lost 27-37 to Hawke’s Bay U20 in the second round of the Hurricanes region U20 competition.
In contrast to the Pride, the Wellington U20s made a fast start to their match and led 17-6 midway through the first half. Hawke’s Bay came back and closed to within a point before Wellington had a player sinbinned and lost captain and lock Joe latta to injury. In this period just before and after halftime Hawke’s Bay scored 13 unanswered point and took a 29-17 lead. Wellington hit back with a try and a penalty to close the score to 27-29, but a try and a penalty to the home side allowed them to hold on over the last quarter.
For Wellington, fullback Andrew Quinlivan, wing Ambrose Curtis and blindside/lock Vaea Fifita were the try scorers, while Andrew Wells kicked all three conversions and two penalties.
Wellington's next match in the Hurricanes U20 tournament is against Manawatu this coming Saturday at the Petone Rec, kick-off 12.30pm.
At Masterton, Wellington Maori lost their first match of the RDO Cup, going down 23-26 to Wairarapa Bush B. Wellington were guilty of making too many errors and the home side capitalised. Wairarapa-Bush led 18-11 at halftime and held on in the second half.
For Wellington, halfback Jared Kahu, James Mei and Joe Hopkins scored tries and Campbell Woodmass kicked three penalties and a conversion. Ricoh Wellington Lions prop Whetu Henry played for the Maori in this match.
The Maori return home to host Horowhenua-Kapiti B this coming Saturday at the Petone Recreation Ground, kick-off 2.30pm.
At Poriua Park, Wellington U18 defeated the Centurions 72-6. At Wanganui, Wellington U16 beat Wanganui U18 53-8 (report below). At Paraparumu, Wellington U16 Development beat Horowhenua U16 42-14.
Wellington U18s sail home to beat Centurions after tight start
The final score belies what was a tight and competitive tussle in the opening quarter of the teams' first match in the Hurricanes U18 competition. Wellington held only a slender 5-3 lead after 20 minutes. However, two converted tries in the final five minute of the half stretched the advantage to 27-6 and afforded Wellington some comfort at the break.
As a valiant Centurions team tired, Wellington’s depth proved decisive as they piled on 40 points in the last 22 minutes of the match. Four Wellington backs – Siaosi Finau-Lealiifano, Falelima Siinei, Sam Chamberlain and Wesley Goosen – each scored a braced of tries. Chamberlain also landed five conversions from as many attempts after taking over the kicking duties mid-way through the second half.
Wellington’s remaining two games see them travel away to take on Manawatu and Taranaki in consecutive weeks.
This coming Saturday the Wellington U18s play Manawatu in Palmerston North.
Forwards dominate their Wanganui Seniors in U16A win
The youth, athleticism and fitness of the Wellington U16A team resulted in a comprehensive eight tries to one win against Wanganui U18. Lock, Lui Okeamoa-Luamanu, and Captain and Hooker, Leni Apisai, each made the decisive plays which turned what was a tight game into an open display of running rugby.
Played in perfect conditions, with a light south-westerly breeze coming off the mouth of the Wanganui River, Wellington started with the wind, and were rewarded with three points after two minutes. The next 20 minutes were dominated by Wanganui on the scoreboard, with a try and penalty giving them a 5-point buffer heading into the last quarter of the first half.
Okemoa-Luamanu had looked dangerous earlier, and in the 24th minute he broke the Wanganui defence close to the line and evened the score. On the stroke of half-time he was in the clear again with a storming run to take the score out to 13-8 at the break. The score flattered Wanganui, with seven points missed by the boot by Wellington in the deceptive breeze, and they would have felt confident in pulling the deficit back, turning with the wind at their backs.
They weren’t counting on Alex Fidow and Apisai, who in the 8th and 11th minutes scored two barging tries which arose from picking a straight line and running for the in-goal. This was enough to break the Wanganui defence for the remainder of the game, with further tries being scored through the fresh legs of Wellington’s backline substitutions at almost clock-work 5 minute intervals.. To their credit, Wanganui finished strongly, with their size and experience causing problems for Wellington at the breakdown as the game wound down.
Coaches Earl Va’a and Justin Gray will be pleased with this strong performance leading up to the Hurricanes U16 Tournament which starts on 1 October in Wellington.