Vikings come back to beat Dragons
Two clinical displays from the Te Aroha Eels within the space of four days effectively ended the University Hunters semifinal chances in Wellington premier rugby league.
With a catch-up game required between the sides, the Eels dashed the Hunters top-four playoff hopes with 52-12 and 26-4 wins on Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon.
The calculation was simple for the Hunters. They needed wins in both the catchup midweek fixture and the weekend round 17 match, and hope that the fourth-placed Wainuiomata Lions would go down to the unbeaten Whiti Te Ra.
Part of their wish was realised when the Lions succumbed to the competition leaders at the Otaki Domain, but the crucial wins proved elusive.
On Wednesday night at Porirua Park some quality play out wide resulted in a hat trick of tries being scored by the Te Aroha halfback Mohi Aupouri and fullback Michael Strickland to ensure the Eels finished on top.
On Saturday, it was a different story after the Eels opted to rest three key players, including Aupouri, and then came up against a fired-up University side who restricted them to a 14-0 halftime lead.
Te Aroha added 12 more points, while University’s only scoring came when fullback Nathan Te Pania went over just before the final quarter as both sides continued to spread the ball wide despite the blustery conditions.
A dramatic try with a minute remaining saw the Porirua Vikings beat the St George Dragons 12-10 at Ascot Park after trailing for 79 minutes in the match.
An unconverted try each from the St George hooker Luke Kaan and fullback Luke Patelesio gave the Dragons an 8-0 halftime lead in the gale force conditions before the Vikings prop AJ Akavi finally put points on the board for the home side with a converted try as the final quarter approached.
A St George penalty goal widened the margin back out to a 10-6 lead before a try to Akavi’s brother, Nooroa, from dummy half, tied the scores up with a minute remaining. It was left to his cousin Tere Akavi to calmly slot his second conversion of the match and to give the Vikings their third competition win this season.
The Randwick Kingfishers ran in five tries to beat the Petone Panthers 28-12 at McEwan Park after leading 12-10 at halftime.
The Panthers got off to a fine start with two unanswered tries before fatigue began to slow their play down, which saw the Kingfishers swoop in on mistakes and overcome the deficit in the second quarter.
Whiti Te Ra were made to work hard by defending their line often before prevailing with a 24-12 win over the Wainuiomata Lions at the Otaki Domain after leading 14-6 at halftime.
The Upper Hutt Tigers had the bye.