- By Adam Julian
Reviewing day two of the National U19 tournament and looking ahead to the third and final day on Saturday. Scroll down for day three draw.
Canterbury win by a penalty try and Wellington lose on a mouth-guard infraction, it appears age group rugby inherently conspires against the capital as Canterbury continues to prosper in close contests.
Semi-finals day at the National Under 19 tournament in Taupo wasn’t short of drama as Canterbury and Auckland won through to the Graham Mourie Cup final and Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki earned the right to contest the Sir Michael Jones Trophy decider.
Despite being outscored two tries to one, Canterbury edged defending champions Bay of Plenty 16-14. Midway through the second-half an imperious Canterbury scrum was awarded a penalty try as Canterbury powered ahead 13-7.
Chay Fihaki was accurate of the tee, slotting three penalties and a conversion as Canterbury manage to suppress a pacy and vibrant junior Steamers outfit.
Bay of Plenty wing Peni Lasaqa was exceptional making repeat breaks, creating a try and scoring Bay of Plenty’s second, but the Canterbury forwards were clinical when their few chances arose.
Wellington was beaten by Auckland 21-18 in the most extraordinary and unusual circumstances.
The game stretched to golden point extra time, and it was a penalty to Auckland first five-eighth Zarn Sullivan about 10 metres out in front of the posts, which won the game.
The penalty was conceded for a high tackle at a ruck.
Two minutes earlier, Wellington flyhalf Malo Manuao had kicked a penalty from 10 metres in from touch, 30 metres out, to level the scores at 18-18.
Auckland started briskly with the No. 8 John Latu storming storming run up the middle of the park to create an overlap for left wing Heremaia Murray to touch down. The try went unconverted and Auckland were ahead 5-0.
Wellington’s set-piece struggled initially, losing a couple of lineouts, although the scrum was powerful all game.
Ironically, Wellington’s lineout would be the source of the first try when lock Taine Plumtree won clean ball and No. 8 Shamus Langton dived over in the 18th minute.
Langton, who had a strong, industrious game, scored a second try by carrying off the back of the scrum, putting Wellington ahead 12-5.
Auckland turned 15-5 down at halftime with the assistance of a stiff breeze.
Inaccurate kicking hampered Auckland, but when Wellington lock Caleb Delany was yellow carded for not wearing his mouth guard, Auckland found their groove and impressive hooker Soane Vikena drove over from a lineout. The handy conversion was missed and Wellington held a 15-13 lead.
In the last 10 minutes, Wellington camped inside Auckland’s 22, but failed to score. From a scrum penalty Auckland broke out from their own goal posts and centre Patrick Namoa finished to put Auckland up 18-15.
With 30 seconds to play, Wellington won the kick-off and went wide and were awarded a penalty which was kicked to level the scores up and force extra time. In the additional period it would again be referee Chris Paul’s whistle which decided the contest.
Wellington’s opponent on Sunday, Otago had a strong 21-10 victory over Waikato. A superior scrum, better use of the breeze and vigorously accurate defence at the breakdown were the telling factors.
Waikato boasted an immense lineout drive, but offered little else in a tactically poor display. Otago led the entire match, the closeted it got was 15-10. Waikato’s tries were scored by hooker Nick Jeffcoat and centre Valynce Tewhare. MSP lock and captain Tom Martin was a standout for the losers and blindside Andrew Viane made some powerful carries.
Otago’s tries were scored by beast prop Saula Ma’u and centre Simeon Latu. Replacement first-five Brayden Laing kicked three penalties and a conversion. Flankers Jake Russ and Sean Withy were outstanding for Otago while fullback Harrison Boyle kicked long and accurately with the wind.
The Heartland XV had an excellent and entertaining 41-26 win against Northland. Two tries in two minutes to Northland threatened to derail Heartland who swiftly regrouped to led 22-14 at halftime and 34-19 early in the second-half. Northland’s scrum threatened to drag them back into the contest, but weak tackling close to their line was the bain of the junior Taniwha existence.
Heartland openside Jason Myers led by example with two cracking tries while Upper Hutt first-five Raniera Peterson was strong with boot and ball in hand, additionally slotting four conversions and a penalty. Wing Taniela Wacokecoke scored the sealing try with a ferret down the left touchline. Northland’s best try was a 60-meter intercept to centre Kingi Herewini. Second-five Ethan Sherwood was strong and prop Craven Martin scored a try off the bench and provided obvious punch.
Manawatu beat Auckland Development 36-24, Counties Manukau beat Southland 81-12, Taranaki defeated Tasman 47-27 and Hawke’s Bay beat North Harbour 10-9 in Wednesday’s other matches.
Day three draw (Saturday)
See below for the day three draw.