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Esi Komaisavai was the toast of Porirua Park this afternoon for Northern United, intercepting an Old Boys University pass and scampering 60 metres to score the match-winner.
With scores locked up at 25-25 in the shadows of fulltime of a ding-dong battle, Komaisavai’s try gave Norths a 30-25 win and made it two bonus point wins for the defending Premier Swindale Shield champions to start the season.
Earlier, the Billygoats had taken a 15-10 lead into halftime, taking their only two clear chances of the half to score from forwards drives. Norths lit up their home ground right after the break with a turnover on their own side of halfway and a classic breakout and try to left wing TK Bishop. This put Norths in front 17-15.
OBU replied with their third try, second five-eighth Izzy Foai supporting his forwards and rumbling over. OBU were now ahead 22-17. Right wing Junior Time Taotua answered for Norths to make it 22-22, before Komaisavai and Dale Sabbagh exchanged penalties.
The game appeared destined for a draw – like the Premier Reserve curtain-raiser that finished 19-19 – as OBU launched a raid up the grandstand side of the field towards the scoreboard. Earlier try-scorer Foai passed inside to Komaisavai instead of a teammate and the Wellington sevens specialist sailed away to score the winner. In winning this match, Norths won the Ken Douglas Trophy as well.
Norths are joined by Oriental-Rongotai at the head of the table on 10 competition points after the opening fortnight of the Swindale Shield, after Ories beat the Avalon Wolves 41-24 at Fraser Park.
Ories stung Avalon out wide in the first half, with right wing Tuga Mativa scoring a first half hat-trick. Ories extended this advantage to 41-7 early in the second half when first flanker Luke Tau’alupe crossed and then left wing Malachai Unasa stole an Avalon quick lineout and sprinted clear.
The Wolves hit back with three tries in only a few minutes and a comeback was brewing, only for the game to settle down and there was no further scoring for the next 25 minutes.
Poneke and Hutt Old Boys Marist are the two other unbeaten teams after two rounds of the 2019 Swindale Shield.
Poneke were made to work hard in beating Paremata-Plimmerton 37-17. The home side held them to 10-10 late in the first half, before Poneke inched ahead to take a 15-10 lead into the rest period. The home side ran out of steam in the second spell as Poneke sailed home to win.
The HOBM Eagles toppled Tawa 25-24 at Lyndhurst Park, their second win to start the year and Tawa’s second home defeat. This game was close throughout with scores locked up at 10-10 at the break and the Eagles slipping ahead for the final time late in the match.
Marist St Pat’s were the day’s biggest winners, over-running the Johnsonville Hawks 71-5 at home at Evans Bay, for a comfortable bonus point win. Of note, MSP’s Premier Reserves and defending Harper Lock Shield champions raised the ton, beating the Hawks second XV 101-5.
At William Jones Park, home team Wainuiomata felled Petone 18-13 in their Darren Larsen Cup match.
Wainuiomata led the Villagers 13-10 at halftime and battled hard in a sloppy second half to win. Petone, missing several key players for this match, made a number of handling errors. Wainuiomata physicality in the breakdown proved telling, although poor discipline meant they were playing with 13 men at one stage.
At Maoribank Park, the the Upper Hutt Rams beat the Wellington Axemen 46-26 in a game that came alive in the second half.
The Axemen led the Rams 12-7 at halftime, but the home side came back throughout the second half to secure their victory with a few minutes remaining.
As well as MSP, Tawa and Oriental-Rongotai are the other teams on a maximum 10 points after the opening fortnight of the Premier Reserve Harper Lock Shield (HLS).
Tawa slayed the HOBM second XV 70-14 in the early game at Lyndhurst Park, while Ories over-ran Avalon late in the curtain-raiser at Fraser Park.
Avalon led Ories 19-7 at halftime and were still ahead 33-21 after 65 minutes, but a late burst by Ories gave them a 42-33 win.
The Upper Hutt Rams gained their second HLS win, cruising to a 73-5 win over Wellington’s second-stringers.
In two other HLS matches, Poneke defeated Paremata-Plimmerton 57-8, while Petone beat Wainuiomata 41-17.
In the OBU-Norths 19-19 draw (mentioned above), Norths led 12-7 at halftime and were still ahead by 19-14 with time running down. OBU scored an equaliser in the corner from a chip and chase try but were unable to convert.