The Northern Warriors have won the Caelib Edwards Memorial Trophy with a 24-15 win over the Southern Battlers in the annual Southern Region Rugby North v South match played at Outram. The first half was played at an unbelievable tempo as both sides were eager to throw the ball around.
The North had a strong opening five minutes before the momentum swung in favour of the Southern side who camped in their attacking half for the majority of the first stanza.
South threw attack after attack at the North defence who held strong, although it was the South who were guilty of pushing the last pass instead of taking contact.
The opening try of the match was scored by the North after a turnover deep inside their own territory.
Numerous phases later, fullback Clayton Buchanan crossed to give his side the lead against the run of play.
After the try, South continued their barrage inside the North’s 22.
More key errors and a failure to recognise space out wide cost them several times, although they did manage to finally breach the defence through No 8 Andy Carruthers before halftime to send the match into the drinks break at 5-5.
With substitutions flying around everywhere, the second half was a more even contest and both sides had plenty of time in possession.
South started strongly again but still could not find the balance of whether to unleash a pass or take contact.
North managed to find their hands on the ball more in the second half and their structure was pretty decent at times.
North were first to score in the second half as replacement fullback Jared Hayes dived on a Liam Homer grubber kick over the line to break the deadlock.
The South were reduced to 14 men shortly after thanks to a yellow card which allowed the North to capitalise.
Consistent pressure from the North forward pack resulted in lock William Haywood stretching over the line to extend the score to 19-5 once the conversion had been kicked.
The South were not done and with a man in the bin, they managed to score through replacement prop Macrae Sanderson who pirouetted his way over the line from close range.
Outside back Jeremy Gray was next to score for the South shortly after to tighten the score to 19-15 as the conversion was again missed.
North finished the match with the final say as Hayes was on hand to score his double in exactly the same way he scored his first, a dive on a loose ball in the in-goal after a grubber kick.
This time it was prop Sam Wyber who provided the goods off the boot.
The match finished shortly after as the North wrestled back the coveted trophy for this year.
There were plenty of standout players across the match that had an exhibition feel to it, although the intensity was fierce, and the collisions were not made up.
The North made the most of their chances and were deserved winners.
Fullback Jared Hayes stole the show in the second half with his performance.
Hayes was the happy recipient of two tries, but he put in a mountain of work aside from these. He injected himself into the backline well and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
No 8 Tyson Adams had a strong match at the back of the scrum, Adams carried well and made metres most times.
Lock Will Haywood and replacement back Bailey Kenny had some good touches in the second half.
The South will rue not being able to convert their territory and possession into points, especially in the first half as they left a few tries out there.
Forwards Daniel Miller, Josh Turnbull and Max Pennell led by example.
Their physicality was immense, and they led from the front for the most part. Loose forwards Callum Maze and Andy Carruthers had strong first halves.
Maze was lethal over the ball and Carruthers’ set piece prowess was second-to-none.
Mat Korteweg was the pick of the backs for the South.
Korteweg was at his physical best with some outrageous runs outside in defence and some very solid hits.
He also barred up on attack and carried strongly every time.
There was impact off the bench with front rowers Joe Skipps and Macrae Sanderson adding plenty.
Ieru Leteu was another who impressed in limited game time.
Northern Warriors 24 (Jared Hayes 2, Will Haywood, Clayton Buchanan tries; Hayes 1 con, Jacky Scott 1 con), Southern Battlers 15 (Jeremy Gray, Andy Carruthers, Macrae Sanderson tries). HT 5-5.