Norths’ fire blown out
It was almost like the hail, rain and driving southerly that blew into Petone on Sunday afternoon was the harbringer of Northern United’s downfall.
For the first 30 minutes of the Jubilee Cup final it was business-as-usual – Norths skipping out to a 13-6 lead over Oriental-Rongotai, the backs looking dangerous and forwards working well, with dead-eye James So’oialo knocking over goals from the sideline.
But with the southerly change, Ories seemed to grow another foot taller and a yard faster, with off-loads, fantastic ball retention and a rampaging forward pack doing all the damage.
From 21-13 to Ories at the break, it eventually finished 40-18, to give the Wellington side their first Cup win.
Norths, chasing their fifth title in seven years, could not get their hands on the ball, despite having the howling gale at their backs. Their disappointed coach Frank Rees had high praise for the Ories effort.
‘‘They came with the passion and had the will to win. They’re a well-led, well-coached side and it’s good to see the Jubilee Cup go to a side that deserves it, they finished the roundrobin on top and they’ve worked hard for this. Ories brought the right game, their scrum was strong and they have exceptional ball carriers.’’
Rees says his team got in front but ‘‘took our foot off a bit’’ and paid the price, with set-pieces not working for them at all. Despite the loss, he says giving opportunities to more than 50 players this year at this level can only be a good thing, with many likely to end up in Wellington colours.
There were celebrations the night before at the Tawa clubrooms, after they clinched the second-tier Hardham Cup with a stirring 25-20 win over Old Boys-University.
An outstanding performance by assistant coach and halfback Steve So’oialo, the former Samoa international seemingly out of retirement now, put paid to OBU’s overwhelming favouritism.
Tawa led 20-8 at halftime on the back of tries to centre Jason Roache and winger George Tilsely, the latter an 80-metre solo effort.
In the second half OBU came back hard and Tawa had to defend on their own line for the final six minutes of the game, but their defence held.
It was a fitting end to the season for Tawa and new coach Graeme Ross.
Winning feeling: Tawa skipper Filisione Koloamatangi holds the Hardham Cup aloft after his side’s thrilling 25-20 win over OBU on Saturday at Fraser Park.