Per­ci­val seals stun­ning Ham­mers win

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - OUT & ABOUT - ERIN TASKER

A Jared Per­ci­val penalty on full time sealed Mid Can­ter­bury a stun­ning 40-39 win over Wan­ganui in rugby’s Heartland Cham­pi­onship in Ash­bur­ton on Sat­ur­day.

It was a vi­tal win which put Mid Can­ter­bury just one point out­side the top four with three games to go, in­clud­ing two against sides cur­rently above them on the ta­ble, co-coach Craig Dun­lea said.

Wan­ganui have tra­di­tion­ally been the side to beat in the Heartland Cham­pi­onship, so to beat them a week af­ter putting 60-points on Wairarapa Bush was great for Mid Can­ter­bury’s con­fi­dence, Dun­lea said.

‘‘It was good, but at the same time we nearly let it slip as well, so we’ve just got to keep think­ing about that and how we fin­ish things off,’’ Dun­lea said.

Mid Can­ter­bury struck first barely a minute in with a try to Chris­tian Vainerere in the cor­ner, with Per­ci­val’s con­ver­sion the first points in a per­sonal 20-point haul.

Wil­lie McGoon showed great con­trol to dot down in the cor­ner for Mid Can­ter­bury’s sec­ond, grab­bing them the lead back af­ter two Wan­ganui tries, and a Maleli Sau try ex­tended that lead to 24-12.

Sau was in for his sec­ond just min­utes later, in what was sure to be a con­tender for try of the sea­son, set up by the man of the hour, Per­ci­val. Wan­ganui were hot on at­tack when Per­ci­val snatched an in­ter­cept and took off down the field. He didn’t have the gas, so slowed and put a cross field kick in which bounced favourably for Sau and Mid Can­ter­bury were sud­denly out to 31-12.

Two Wan­ganui tries late in the half nar­rowed the gap though, and the home side went to the break with a 31-24 lead, and they con­tin­ued the fight-back in the sec­ond half to lead by two with time al­most up.

When Mid Can­ter­bury were awarded a penalty 45 me­tres out with time up, Per­ci­val again stepped up and held his nerve to win it for his side. The only kick he missed all day was a first-half penalty at­tempt from half­way, and even that only just missed.

It was Per­ci­val’s first start of the sea­son, handed to him af­ter Ja­son Kjestrup was struck down by ill­ness, and there was now likely to be an in­ter­nal bat­tle on for that po­si­tion, which was a good thing, Dun­lea said.

Mid Can­ter­bury play Thames Val­ley in Paeroa on Sat­ur­day.

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

Seta Koroita­mana looks to free a pass dur­ing Mid Can­ter­bury’s 40-39 win over Wan­ganui.

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