Sharks down Pikiao War­riors

South Waikato News - - SPORT CLASSIFIED -

Last Satur­day on a rain swept Pukete­whero park in Ro­torua, the Pikiao War­riors were look­ing to re­deem them­selves af­ter the Pa­cific Sharks tow­elled them in both the pre­mier and re­serve grades in the first round of the BOP and Coast­line rugby league com­pe­ti­tion.

In the pre­mier game, Pikiao War­riors were pur­pose­ful from the kick­off while the Pa­cific Sharks seemed to lack co­he­sive­ness and ac­cu­racy with ball in hand. But there was noth­ing lack lus­tre about the Sharks’ de­fence, de­spite miss­ing some key per­son­nel to sus­pen­sion and in­jury. The War­riors threw ev­ery­thing they could muster at the Sharks’ ap­pren­tices from pin­point in- goal kicks, spi­ralling bombs, re­cip­ro­cat­ing lat­eral ball move­ment to sledg­ing and even borderline de­fence. Sharks player of the day and full­back Vin­cent Morunga was the re­cip­i­ent of much of Pikiao’s on­slaught.

But just be­fore the half­time whis­tle, cen­tre Weyan Hewett found him­self at the end of a back­line shift and took no risk launch­ing him­self over and through the de­fence to score.

In the sec­ond half, the War­riors con­tin­ued to ap­ply aerial and ter­ri­to­rial pres­sure, forc­ing the Sharks to run the ball out of their own half and pin­ning them back with some ag­gres­sive de­fence. Af­ter 52 min­utes, their per­sis­tence paid off when an acute in-goal grub­ber kick was mis­judged by a de­fender for Pikiao to score be­side the post, 4 – 4. The eas­i­est of con­ver­sions was missed.

Two min­utes later, Sharks were on attack, threat­en­ing the War­riors’ goal line. An over- ag­gres­sive de­fender was sin binned and the re­sult­ing penalty calmly con­verted by Ngari Hawkins.

Af­ter 70 min­utes of play, again the Sharks threat­ened the War­riors goal line. In good field po­si­tion, Sharks cap­tain and hooker Pa­trick Rus­sell was im­peded and a penalty awarded which Hawkins con­verted bring­ing the score to 8–4.

Pikiao, the ‘come­back kings’ af­ter last year’s mon­u­men­tal grand fi­nal win, made the Sharks sup­port­ers edgy with min­utes to go. But there would be no Hou­dini act this time around as Sharks piv­ots Ezra Takiri and Brian Turia were in com­mand with their driv­ing kicks and a win looked in­evitable. Morunga showed his class, de­fus­ing any Pikiao threat from the back. The young Sharks for­ward pack proved their worth with an all-round im­pres­sive per­for­mance against a War­riors re­vival.

In the ear­lier re­serve game, the Sharks were too clin­i­cal for the dis­or­gan­ised War­riors win­ning 72–nil. Player of the day Freemin Mack­in­tosh was out­stand­ing in all facets of play along­side fel­low for­ward Do­minic Mea.

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