THE opening game of the 2005 Bartercard Cup season at North Harbour Stadium was not a show piece of Rugby League
OCCASIONALLY, I am reminded why I love our great game so much, it's unpredictability.
I was reminded of that today, when, in an absolute boil over, at Auckland's Cornwall Park, fourth placed Foundation Cup side, First National Northland, took out their game against the previously unbeaten Auckland Crowns. An unbelievable victory with the final score 24/22 to the Northerners.
The game began on a fairly even footing with two quick unconverted tries to both teams.The Auckland side after the first ten minutes began to claim some ascendancy, scoring three more tries before the break, with the number 11 second rower claiming two of them.
The hooter had gone at 18/4 to the Crowns and it appeared as if they had it in the bag and would simply go through the motions in the second half to make an appearance in the Grand Final at Ericcson Stadium next week.
Unfortunately that is exactly what they did - go through the motions. Early in the half, the Crowns number 11 got his hat-trick - 22/4 and it's in the bag. Wrong, the Crowns reckoned without the hunger and "refuse to lie down" attitude of their Northern neighbours. First National Northland scored three successive tries to claw it back to 22/18. About 5 minutes left on the clock and the Crowns had a try disallowed. A dead set try that the bloke with the flag said was knocked on - it wasn't, but that's the breaks. Seconds left on the clock and Northland score under the sticks, the conversion floats over and that'sthe ball game.
Well done Northland and good luck in the final next week.
The Kiwi Cup game at Cornwall was the local derby between the undefeated Auckland Crowns and fourth placed Auckland Sea Lions. In their match up in the rounds, the Crowns had beaten the Sea Lions by a 20 point margin and today was not going to be any easier on the Sea Lions. Scott Jones, Crowns second rower, opened with a penalty goal and it was game on. The lead changed five times in the first half, with the Crowns taking control, only in the last 10 minutes. In one of those little quirks, Crowns full-back, James Nathan, snapped a field goal to take the score at the break to 27/12.
The Crowns were on top, but you could not write off the Sea Lions. They had tired in the last 10 minutes but the break would do them good.
Sadly, the break didn't actually did not do them a lot of good at all. They managed to score one converted try in the second dig while the Crowns managed another four. The half was not without excitement, with Crowns players, Nui Talau and Frank Paul Nuuausala spending time in the bin, but at the end of the day the Auckland Crowns were too strong and skillful for the South Auckland team. The Crowns earned their spot in the final at Ericcson by winning 45/18.
In other semi results, the Auckland Sea lions beat Wellington, in the Foundation Cup, 26/14 and
Canterbury beat Wellington in the Kiwi Cup 24/22.
We are now set for the Grand Finals at Ericcson Stadium week. The Foundation Cup features First National Northland and the Auckland Sea Lions and the Kiwi Cup will be fought out by the undefeated Auckland Crowns and Canterbury.
AUCKLAND Crowns sides in both Foundation Cup and Kiwi Cup consolidated their positions at the top
of the table in the Lion Foundation National Junior Competition at North Harbour Stadium today.
In hot and sunny conditions both teams comprehensively beat their South Auckland rivals, the Sea Lions,in a much anticipated local derby.
In a very entertaining Foundation Cup game, both teams arm wrestled for the first ten minutes,
before gun young half-back, Sioeli Makaui, crossed for the Crowns. His halves partner, Jody Henry, converted and the game was well and truly on. About eight minutes later, Sea Lion's winger, Kelo Tuitavake, claimed their first points. The Crowns began to take the edge in the game, scoring twice more beforethe break, with halves Henry and Makaui both dotting down. Half time saw the score board reading 14/4.
The Sea Lions had played ok, but ball retention ( of lack thereof ) was causing their downfall and the Crowns had scored twice through dropped ball. The Crowns were looking the better side.
The second half saw a fairly scrappy start with the Sea Lions getting a couple of easily gained sets upnear the Crowns line. The Crowns defence was strong and they were able to withstand back to back sets and eventually work the ball up and perform a brilliant back move that saw half back, Makaui,involved three times, allow winger, Dylan Holtom to score in the corner. A try to second rower, ConstantineMika, about four minutes later saw the score blow out to 22/4. Sea Lions stand-off, Ronnie Va'asa grabbed one back, but the game was pretty much gone by then. One last try to the Crowns and a late consolation to the Seal Lions saw it end up 28/16 to the Crowns.
This Crowns U16's side is the best Foundation Cup team I have seen since the inception of this competition in 2002. I can't see them being beaten and Coach, Frank Harold, must be a happy man to have so much talent to work with.
The Kiwi Cup game, by comparison, was a major anti-climax. The game saw a fairly physical start, but it was not long before the Crowns claimed first blood through centre, Cooper Vuna. Sea Lions winger, Miguel Start, scored the first his team, but a fair procession of tries to the Crowns saw half-time at 20/8.
There had been some good individual play from guys in both teams but it had been less than entertaining.The second half was much of the same, it seemed lumbering. Five tries were scored in the half, three to the Crowns and two to the Sea Lions and it finished up 38/18 to the Crowns.
There were no real stand outs but Aaron Pawley and Paki Ormsby from the Crowns deserve a mention
and winger, Solman Foki, had a good run for the Sea Lions.
THIS weekend sees the half way point in this, all too short, competition. Two rounds left after this Saturday and teams in the top four of the six team competition are desperate to get that, all important, number one spot. Finishing first means a home semi-final against the fourth placed team and a huge advantage to make the final.
Currently, in both Foundation Cup and Kiwi Cup, the Auckland Crowns are ruling the roost, but only on points difference. The Canterbury Kiwi Cup side are proving to be something of a dark horse, right behind the Crowns and they have the advantage of playing them at Rugby League Park in Christchurch in Round 4, having already toppled the highly fancied Auckland Sea Lions on the same ground.
The games of the week, this weekend are undoubtedly the clashes between the two Auckland sides, in both grades, at North Harbour Stadium this Saturday. In the Foundation Cup, the Auckland sides hold positions one and two with only twelve points differential between them.
APRIL 2 will see the beginning of the Auckland Rugby League Premier Competition.
THE Mt Albert Lions, 2004 Fox Memorial winners,
opened their 2005 account, by taking out the Auckland Rugby League Pre Season Trophy, The Roope Rooster.
THIS weekend sees the final round of the Lion Foundation National Junior Competition.
IN sultry and often blustery conditions today at Bert Henham Park in Auckland, the local Sea Lions team beat the Waicoa Bay Stallions 38/10 in the penultimate round of the Lion Foundation NJC Foundation Cup.
AUCKLAND'S Cornwall Park, today saw the Auckland Sea Lions and First National Northland go head to head in the final round of the Lion Foundation National Junior Competition.