The Wellington U20 and U18 representative sides enjoyed comfortable wins over their Manawatu counterparts in their respective Hurricanes region competition matches on Saturday, the U20s winning 50-0 and the U18s 45-10.
Elsewhere, the Wellington Maori beat Horowhenua Kapiti B 36-24 in their fifth round RDO Cup competition match, and in two defeats, the U18 Centurions missed out 19-20 to Taranaki U18 and the Wellington Pride went down 0-65 to the defending champions Auckland Storm in their fourth round women’s NPC fixture.
In the first of three games at a sun-drenched Petone Recreation Ground, the Wellington Centurions U18s pushed the Taranaki U18s hard all the way before losing by a point. Both sides scored two tries each, but the difference came off the kicking tee where Centurions second five-eighth Mitchell Purvis landed three first half penalties but was unable to convert the tries scored by right wing Ryan Saunders and replacement halfback Luke Donaldson. Taranaki scored a converted try and a penalty in each half and led 10-9 at halftime.
In the feature game that followed, the Wellington U20s outplayed the Manawatu U20s to earn a convincing win, combining well-organised defence with strong support play and continuity on attack. The result was that they had their bonus point try and the game won by halftime when wing Ambrose Curtis skipped around to score their fourth try with the last play of the first half. First five-eighth Aviata Silago added the extras and they led 30-0 at the turnaround.
After halftime, Wing Te Wehi Wright added to his first half try with two more to complete an individual hat-trick, while second five-eighth Nick Grigg , No. 8 Tuakana Metaurau and replacement back Andrew Ellis scored three of the other seven tries.
Wellington opened the scoring midway through the opening spell when local Petone player Grigg flew up and intercepted a Manawatu pass and ran 20 metres for his try. Wellington hooker Dion Lealofi and centre Timoci Serawalu both stood out, and it was Wellington’s good work at the breakdown, led by Lealofi, and Serawalu’s strong running out wide that created their second try to Metaurau. Next, Serawlau crashed the ball up from a scrum, freeing up space for the speedy Wright and Wellington led 20-0 after half an hour.
Silago kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 23-0, before Curtis completed a very good team try at the end of the first half and it was game over by the oranges.
Wellington will meet Hawke’s Bay in the final of the Hurricanes U20 tournament this coming Saturday at Palmerston North.
On the far field at Petone, Wellington Maori pulled away to beat Horowhenua Kapiti B in the second half after scores were locked up at 17-17 at halftime in a tense opening 40 minutes in which the Maori scored three tries. The run of play remained tight after the interval, with one more try and the boot of Deina Morate seeing the Maori home.
Wellington Maori play Wanganui B at Maidstone Park in their sixth and final RDO Cup game this coming Saturday, where a win would likely see them retain the silverware for another year in the competition also involving Wairarapa Bush B.
The Wellington Pride were outgunned in the sun at Westpac Stadium by a rampant Auckland Storm side who scored 10 tries on their way to a comfortable win. At least five of these tries were scored from turnovers from deep inside their own half and through long-range strikes, Auckland centre Jade Le Pesq running in a first half hat-trick. Unforced errors also proved costly, with Auckland scoring twice in quick succession from attacking scrums, first from a Pride kick-off that didn’t go 10 metres and second after a knock-on from a kick ahead in general play. Auckland led 46-0 at halftime.
The Pride came out in a much stronger vein in the second spell, the forwards in particular competing well in the close quarter areas, and they pushed Auckland close on several occasions. But the visitors held on and the halftime score remained intact right up until the 75th minute mark when the floodgates opened again and Auckland ran in three quickfire tries at the end.
This coming Saturday the Pride play Canterbury at Christchurch before playing Manawatu in Palmerston North in their last match in a fortnight and will need two wins and other results to go their way to make the women’s NPC final.
In warm and firm underfoot conditions the Wellington Under 18s were too strong for their Manawatu counterparts in Palmerston North. While the game at times became loose and unstructured, the fast pace suited the visitors and they regularly threatened on attack. Four tries in the first half – two to big winger Siaosi Finau-Lealiifano – meant Wellington held a comfortable 24-10 lead at the break.
Manawatu were often competitive and there was no further score in the third quarter of the match. However, Wellington’s depth off the bench proved convincing as it ran in a further three tries to replacement players to end the game conclusively.
Wellington has confirmed its place in the final of the Hurricanes Under 18 competition with one round robin game remaining. Wellington will travel away to Taranaki this coming Saturday ahead of the final in Palmerston North the following weekend.
The Hurricanes region U16 tournament is at the Petone Recreation Ground this Monday, Tuesday and Thursday features the Wellington U16A and Wellington U16 Development sides in action. In Pool A, the Wellington U16As play Taranaki on Monday at 2.30pm, Manawatu on Tuesday at 1.00pm and Hawke's Bay on Thursday at 11.00am.
In Pool B, the Wellington Development team plays Wanganui on Monday at 1.30pm and then Poverty Bay in a friendly match at North Park on Tuesday, ahead of finals day against a winner/loser from the opposite side of the draw on Thursday.
At the Petone Recreation Ground: Wellington U20 50 (Te Wehi Wright 3; Tuakana Metaurau, Nick Grigg, Ambrose Curtis, Andrew Ellis tries; Andrew Wells 2 pen, con; Aviata Silago pen, 2 con). Beat Manawatu U20 0. HT: 30-0
At the Petone Recreation Ground: Wellington Centurions U18 19 (Ryan Saunders, Luke Donaldson tries; Mitchell Purvis 3 pen) lost to Taranaki U18 20. HT: 9-10
At the Petone Recreation Ground: Wellington Maori 36 (Jason Love, Mykel Herewini, Martin Te Whetu, Jayden Watene tries; Campbell Woodmass pen; Deina Morata 3 pen; 2 con) beat Horowhenua Kapiti B 24. HT: 17-17
At Palmerston North: Wellington U18 45 (Siaosi Finau-Lealiifano 2, Sam Chamberlain, Luke Campbell, Dylan Hayes, Aukuso Tuitama, Jordan Mellars tries; Liam Berry 3 con; Chamberlain 2 con). beat Taranaki U18 10 HT: 45-10
At Westpac Stadium: Wellington Pride 0 lost to Auckland Storm 65. HT: 0-46
At Westpac Stadium: Ricoh Wellington Lions 34 Ardie Savea, Ross Filipo, Lima Sopoaga, Kaipati Gaualofa, Shaun Treeby tries; Sopoaga 3 con, pen) beat North Harbour 28 HT: 20-14