The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Henham Park, home of the Otahuhu Leopards, and today, the venue for the clash between Otahuhu and the Ellerslie Eagles. Otahuhu and Ellerslie, bedfellows in the Bartercard Cup competition but rivals in the Auckland Rugby League Premier Grading Round.
A scrappy start to the game with a heap of lost ball, but to be fair, a couple of showers of rain prior to kick off was making the football a touch greasy. 12 minutes in and the home side claim first blood through a try to powerful centre, Tama Wakelin. They follow it up, 5 minutes later with one to winger, Eric Lilo.
A couple of sets later and the Eagles respond with a good try to winger, Charlie Fuiini. Gee, this bloke is strong and he just powered through. The Leopards were still on the pace though and hit back quickly when number 18, Mike Milford went in, following through on a bomb that no one could catch. 12/4 to the home side. Ellerslie centre, Mana Tuipulotu grabs one. Leopard's big front rower, Steve Tuala ,crashes his way through. Two further tries to the Eagles and we are at the break with the score board showing 22/18 to the Ellerslie Eagles.
That was one great half of Rugby League. Both sides were playing their hearts out and neither side was giving an inch. You couldn't pick a winner and the small, but vocal crowd were right behind their teams. It's days like this that reminds me why I love this grade so much.
Virtually from the kick-off the Leopards hit the front again with a try to their number 11 second rower. The Eagles half back gets them back in the lead with a beauty. Both teams are going try for try, end for end. 6 minutes left in the game and Otahuhu are leading 30/28. Manu Tuipulotu scores a cracker and the visitors hit the front, 34/30.
Otahuhu threw everything in their arsenal at the Eagles but it was to no avail. Ellerslie had taken the cigar and the two points. That was an absolute cracker of a game and if these two sides are not part of the Mad Butcher Fox Memorial competition in four weeks time then I'll be very surprised.