Auckland Teams Clean Up NJC

The Lion Foundation National Junior Competition was completed today at Ericcson Stadium and Auckland teams were on the money in both grades. I arrived at half time in the Foundation Cup game and the Auckland Sea Lions were in front, 22/6. Five minutes earlier it had apparently been 10/6 so the Sea Lions had obviously hit their straps very late in the half. Early in the second dig and Auckland winger, Alvin Matavao, grabs hold of a First National Northland long pass and races 80 metres to score. Stand-off, Ronnie Va'asa followed up a little later. Centre, Jerome Leolahi was successful with the conversion and the Sea Lions were leading 32/6. Northland were not lying down though, but their finishing was just not working. Set after set, they would work it down to the line but couldn't quite get the ball over. Credit to the Sea Lions defence - they were not letting them. Finally, Northland half back, Shane Pumipi, dotted down, kicked it himself and it's 32/12. Gun Sea Lions second rower, Rusty Bristow, was dispatched to the bin for a high one and Northland took advantage, by scoring through number 17, Lincoln Monschau. Sadly for First National Northland, time was well and truly against them and the Sea Lions took out the Foundation Cup, 32/16. In the U18's Kiwi Cup, the Canterbury boys had come to the smoke to knock over the Auckland Crowns side but I didn't realise how close they would actually come to doing that. Canterbury took first blood, eight minutes in with a try to half back, Quincy To'o To'o, who converted his own try. Twenty minutes later the Auckland Crowns came back with one to loose forward, Scott Jones. Jones converted as well to bring it up to six apiece. Right on the hooter, the Canterbury second rower, Mananui Te Heu Heu, barged over for a try. To'o To'o converted and they were in front 12/6. The half had belonged to the Canterbury team without doubt. The Crowns were not looking at all comfortable. There appeared to be more than a couple of players carrying injuries and they were doing it hard. Three minutes in and Crowns centre, Patrick Ah Van, went over in the corner. Ten minutes later and the Crowns followed up with one to Frank Paul Nuuausala. The big number 12 was having a huge game. Patrick Ah Van scored his second, 20/10 to the Crowns and it's looking good for the home team. Canterbury were having no problem getting down into the Crowns red zone but when they got there, they were panicking, taking wrong options. For set after set they had good numbers out wide, 10 metres out from the try line, but insisted on playing the power game up the middle. Finally they realised and started to spread it wide. One to centre, Kahu Wehi. Another to full-back, Daniel Bain, and it's locked up at 20 all. A scrambling last two sets with neither team being able to get a field goal set. The hooter goes and we are up for extra time golden point. The first two sets came to nothing, dropped ball and missed opportunities. Canterbury set and they work it down. To'o To'o gets in position for the field goal. It slices off the side of the boot and sails past the right upright. Crowns ball and they are moving down to get Darin Kingi set up for the one pointer. Suddenly they go to their right flank, back to the middle, into the hands of Nuuausala and they won't stop him. Frank-Paul crashes over and it's the game and Kiwi Cup to the Auckland Crowns - 24/20. Well done to the Auckland sides and well done to all the finalists in the NJC. Once again a fabulous competition.