Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
A hatrick of tries by winger Tuki Jackson has helped Otahuhu to a crucial victory over Te Atatu at Henham Park. Fighting for a spot in the top five, the Leopards held nothing back in beating the visitors 30-20. Second rower Nikorn Thammavongsa was unstoppable for the home side. He was well supported by standoff Jacob Yandall who led the backs superbly and kicked well in difficult conditions. A faultless team effort has kept the Marist Saints hopes of a finals birth alive. The Saints, led by props Joseph Luamanuvae and Faucett Aumua, beat Mangere East 34-14 on home soil at Murray Halberg Park. The win leaves the Saints in seventh place, one point outside the top five on ten points. They sit behind Otahuhu, Mangere East and Te Atatu, all of which are placed on 11 points. Leaders Mount Albert sit four points clear on 20 points, second placed Papakura are positioned on 16 points, while Northcote remain unchanged on 12 points. Mount Albert has held off a resurgent Northcote side to win 20-16 in horrid conditions at Birkenhead War Memorial Park. With 15 minutes remaining the Tigers led the visitors 16-14, before Lions Fullback Savi Hafoka added his second try of the match to seal the victory. The return of starting hooker Fale Talaepa made a huge difference to the Lions game. The talented number nine distributed cleanly and made several breaks out of dummy half. The forwards were led by powerhouse prop Tony Tuia and 17-year-old prop Sam McKendry. It was plain sailing for the Papakura Sea Eagles in their encounter with East Coast Bays. The Sea Eagles led throughout the match and capitalised on an era ridden Barracudas performance. Leading 16-6 at the split, the visitors went onto win the match comfortably 34-14.