SOUTH OTAGO RUGBY CORRESPONDENT
West Taieri has drawn a line in the sand that it is the team to beat this season.
The Pigs smashed Toko 54-13 in a match under lights that was fairly even for the first hour of play. The first half was a battle royale with both sides having time with the ball. West Taieri kicked intelligently and played in the right areas of the field. Toko defended well and created some pressure on attack. The teams traded tries at the start of the second half as the arm wrestle continued. When the match hit the hour mark, West Taieri stepped up a gear and ran five tries past a tiring Toko side who couldn’t keep up with the intensity it showed in the earlier stages.
Another late penalty from Clutha Valley first-five Ben Smart gave his side a 23-20 win over Clinton in its match at Clydevale. Clinton shot out to an early lead and looked to have put a big enough gap between the sides in the second half. Valley never gave up and put in a gutsy second-half effort to draw level at 20-all with time almost up on the clock.
Valley was awarded a penalty out wide with Smart sealing the deal for the second time in as many weeks.
Clutha has taken three weeks, but it finally announced itself on the Southern Region Rugby stage.
The Steamers thrashed local rivals Crescent 50-17 in a physical match at Kaitangata. Clutha started the match with a hiss and a roar and never really looked back, running in eight tries including two with a man in the sin bin. Crescent looked reasonable with ball in hand but almost looked to be caught up in the occasion as Clutha was given the chance to play to its strengths for most of the match.
Heriot took a 24-0 bonus point win away from Owaka on a dreary Thursday night at Swamp Hen Park. The first half was fairly even in terms of territory and possession, the only difference being that Owaka couldn’t win a lineout. Heriot would attack and be repelled by tenacious Owaka defence before giving away a penalty. Owaka would kick to the line and then gift the ball straight back to a grateful Heriot side through a poorly executed set piece. The second half was one-way traffic as Heriot rolled up its sleeves and decided to hang on to the ball. Heriot’s discipline, however, will need to be addressed after numerous penalties were given away.
In the women’s competition, Big River Country staged a second-half comeback to beat University 19-18 at the death on Thursday night at Opoho. University made the most of limited chances with two first-half tries to Kate Manning and Mia Cochrane to lead 10-0 at the break. Big River Country hit back early in the second spell before Manning grabbed her second try for the home side.
Big River Country rolled the changes and upped the intensity. Its application was rewarded with a converted try to Tegan Hollows. University knocked over a penalty to give it an 18-14 lead with 10 minutes left. One final attack from Big River Country saw it rewarded with a second try to Hollows in referee’s time to give it a gutsy, hard-fought victory.
• West Taieri 54 (Haughton Gilbert x2, Thor Dougherty x2, Luke Moeke, Steve Green, Toby Evans, Conner Jenkins tries; Callum Smeaton 7 con) beat Toko 13 (Lockie Finch, Mikal Tuari tries; Bradley Frost 1 pen) HT 14-5
• Clutha Valley 23 (Logan Wilson, Damian Wilson, Bineati Teriuea tries; Ben Smart 1 con, 2 pen) beat Clinton 20 (Michael Beattie, Mike Luxmoore, Logan Mosley tries; Nick Anderson 1 con, Ben Witt 1 pen) HT 12-20
• Clutha 50 (Kane Teunissen x2, Tyler Haua, Sylvester Reeves, Junior Samuelu, Aletoni Fetalaiga, Pene Tevaga, Matt Korteweg tries; Korteweg 2 con, Sam Stratford 3 con) beat Crescent 17 (Nick McBride, Ethan Edwards tries; Luc Thomson 2 con, 1 pen) HT 24-10
• Heriot 24 (Dylan Mackenzie, Clayton Buchanan, Stacey McKinnel, Junior Lafoga tries; Logan Cornish 2 con) beat Owaka 0 HT 12-0
• Big River Country 19 (Tegan Hollows x2, Greta Luke tries; Abby Agnew 2 con) beat University 18 (Kate Manning x2, Mia Cochrane tries; Cochrane 1 pen) HT 0-10