Norths still on track for cup
Vikings win points fest
Northern United left it late to knock over Petone in a thrilling Jubilee Cup rugby match at Porirua Park on Saturday.
The 60-and 70-point margins of the Swindale Shield are a distant memory as Norths are scrapping for every win at this part of the season, typified by the 25-23 victory over Petone. They sit in third place now, on 15 points, behind Oriental-Rongotai and Poneke (both 19), with just three matches left before the semifinals.
Blockbusting No 8 Mana Faraimo created the opening try for winger AJ Va’alepu within the first 10 minutes, with centre Alapati Leiua heavily involved. Faraimo would go off in the second half with a knee injury, which will be of concern to the Norths coaches.
A Dudley Parsons penalty made it 10-nil but Petone struck back with a try and two penalties, before Nene Va’alepu darted through to make it 15-13 to Norths at the break.
It was see-saw stuff in the second half, the visitors taking the lead courtesy of a penalty try that didn’t go down well with the home crowd. Local whistler David Walsh ruled that Norths had infringed from a fivemetre scrum and Petone took a deserved lead.
What followed was a concerted Norths attack and grim defence from Petone, with Leiua butchering a try with a terrible pass, then Aiden Cains being held up over the line.
Norths supporters were singing Leiua’s praises with just minutes left on the clock. A big blindside from a scrum about 30 metres out saw the brilliant centre leave tacklers in his wake and scoot over for the try, securing a 25-23 win.
Tawa, meanwhile, kept their Hardham Cup hopes breathing with a tense 13-5 win over Norths B. Avalon, Tawa, Wests and Rimutaka are now separated by just three points and all are chasing three spots in next year’s Swindale Shield.
Tawa led 10-nil after 20 minutes and 13-5 at halftime in heavy conditions at Ngatitoa Domain. Excellent goal-kicking kept Porirua Vikings ahead of a committed University side in a 74-point thriller in Wellington Rugby League play on Saturday.
A good crowd at Ascot Park was treated to a cracker, University flying out of the gates to lead 10-nil early in the match. But the visitors let themselves down with basic handling errors and the champion Vikings took advantage.
George Mafi and his fellow forwards set a platform for the powerful backline and the Porirua side hit back to lead 18-14 at the turnaround.
They scored two converted tries in the opening exchanges of the second half, but University stormed back to draw level with just over 10 minutes remaining.
But the home-side rallied and their 40-34 win keeps them second in the table, just a point back from Wainuiomata.
Randwick have fallen two points behind the Vikings in the standings after a shock 14-12 loss to Te Aroha.
St George remain in bottom position after Wainui handed them a 62-14 hiding, playing some expansive football in favourable conditions.
Dragons forward Kosi Kelemete was a standout in the losing effort, while halfback Chris Taraeka also had a fine game.
The Dragons come up against Petone this weekend at McEwan Park, with the Vikings travelling to Whakatiki St to take on Upper Hutt.
Locking it in: Norths lock Eldon Paea had a huge workload against Petone on Saturday, as the Porirua side secured a vital bonus-point win to keep their defence of the Jubilee Cup alive.