So’oialo the hero for Tawa in cliffhanger
Everyone knew James So’oialo had a big kick, but this was ridiculous.
The Tawa rugby faithful were jubilant at Helston Park on Saturday when So’oialo broke the hearts of Johnsonville supporters with a nearly unbelievable kick of 60 metres on fulltime to break a 15-15 deadlock in the Swindale Shield match.
Moments earlier it looked like a breakaway try was on for the home side, but a shepherding call gave So’oialo his chance, and his booming kick won it.
Tawa coach Dion Waller said his side probably deserved to win the close contest, but praised Johnsonville.
‘‘There has been some negativity around about the likes of Johnsonville, Pare Plim and Avalon struggling,’’ he said.
‘‘But we’ve been really pushed by some of those so-called lower teams. You’ve got to give them credit.
‘‘Today was a real battle and they were up for this local derby. They pinched our ball, were disruptive, fought hard and have a great culture at their club.’’
Waller said Tawa openside flanker TJ Fermanis was an outstanding leader and props Livingstone Finau and Thomas George had mighty games alongside experienced hooker Matt Treeby.
Tawa had several injured players, particularly in the pack, and the depth of the club was being tested, he said.
‘‘To have guys like Thomas stepping up is fantastic. They’re doing a great job.’’
Johnsonville led 8-5 at halftime, with a try from So’oialo keeping the visitors close.
Tawa blindside flanker Telea Seumanutafa scored early in the second half to give Tawa a buffer, but Johnsonville clawed their way back.
Waller warned that slow starts to matches would be costly against the other competition leaders.
So’oialo is the second-highest points scorer in the premier grade this season, with 99. Tyler Tane, from Wainuiomata, has 101 points.
The result means Tawa and Hutt Old Boys Marist are the only unbeaten sides after six matches. Hutt have an extra bonus point and are on 28 points to Tawa’s 27. Tawa will play third-placed Marist St Pat’s at Lyndhurst Park on Saturday in a vital contest.
Meanwhile, in the local derby at Ngatitoa Domain, Northern United were far too strong for Paremata Plimmerton, winning 55-7.
Norths scored nine tries and first-five Jackson Garden-Bachop scored two of them and kicked five conversions for a haul of 20 points.
Paremata Plimmerton had strong periods, but Norths finally clicking was bad news for the home supporters.
Garden-Bachop directed traffic brilliantly and lock Api Naikatini had one of his big games, carrying the ball strongly and making some brutal tackles.
For Paremata Plimmerton, second- five Jonathan Sabo ran hard and straight and tackled well, and a try late on to Tane McMillan-Parata was a just reward for him. Norths’ win means they have 15 points and are in mid-table.
In Wellington premier club rugby league, St George ran into heavyweights Randwick, and came away with a bruising 50-24 loss. Porirua Vikings pipped Te Aroha 20- 18 to stay unbeaten after three rounds.In reserve grade, Titahi Bay Marlins beat Petone by default.
Western Suburbs continued on their merry, goal-scoring way in football’s Central League with an 8-1 hammering of Palmerston North at Memorial Park in Palmerston North.
That means they have scored 13 goals in their last two matches. The result keeps them second in the table after five matches, behind unbeaten Napier City Rovers.
Tawa, meanwhile, lost 2-1 to Lower Hutt City and remain winless.
Tawa hero James So’oialo burst through against Johnsonville on Saturday.