Norths’ fire blown out

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

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.

Photo: PETE MCDON­ALD

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.

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