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Old Boys hang on while Westport march on

Old Boys hang on while Westport march on
Westport and Old Boys continued their winning ways with victories on the weekend in the double header clash at Victoria Square. The win for Old Boys gave them back-to-back victories in the Westreef Services senior competition after they were able to hold out a late Reefton comeback. Westport had a scoring flurry of 27 points in 15 minutes to keep White Star at arm’s length, recording another bonus point victory to push them well clear at the top of the table.

Westport 32-20 White Star
Some inclement whether prior to kick-off meant both teams had to contend with greasy conditions at Victoria Square on Saturday. Both teams struggled with handling in the early stages of the contest, with no great continuity for either team. The only scoring of the first 30 minutes was a penalty goal to each kicker, with Sam Jope opening the scoring for White Star and Maddox Manawatu replying for Westport.

The final 10 minutes of the first half seemed to spark the game into life as both sides showed a desire to move the ball. Westport were the first to cross the line when young winger Flynn Meadowcroft finished off a backline movement to score in the corner. Just two minutes later, Meadowcroft picked up a first half brace as he found himself back in the same corner after White Star made two crucial errors from the restart of play which Westport capitalised from. Suddenly trailing by 10 points, White Star knew they needed to be the next to score and they duly responded as flanker Taine Brownlee used some clever initiative to reach over the ruck and score.

Any momentum created by White Star was very quickly snuffed out as Westport scored a further two tries in the final two minutes before halftime. The first of those tries was scored by Kyle Te Tai who welcomed his return to Buller senior rugby by scoring a great solo try beating multiple defenders in a 40-metre carry. Just moments later, fellow loose forward Jamie Tinetti capped off a strong half by burrowing his way over after Westport were able to get straight back on attack. Manawatu was able to convert both tries to leave Westport with a commanding 27-10 half time lead.

Westport were starting to control the ball well through the strong carries of Kahu Parata, Tinetti and Zach Walsh in particular. White Star were spoiling well in the first 30 minutes and Anthony Ellis was causing plenty of turnovers at the breakdown. Westport were the first to score after the halftime break when Flynn Aldridge was the benefactor of some great handling by Logan Heath and Peter Foote after Westport had sustained pressure on the White Star line.

Down 32-10, with injuries causing plenty of reshuffles to their side, White Star did a remarkable job in the final 30 minutes to keep Westport from scoring. They were also able to add 10 points themselves in this period as Brownlee picked up his second try with a great individual effort which saw him burst through three defenders and use some nifty footwork to score from 40 metres out. Jope was also able to convert and then snare a late dropped goal to close the scoring at 32-20.

Westport again bank another 5 competition points and further consolidate their lead at the top of the table while White Star were unable to make any traction on the ladder. The win also meant Westport were able to retain the Farmlands Foote Shield.

Referee: Phil Grafton

Old Boys 26-19 Reefton
A first half onslaught from Old Boys contributed significantly to their win against Reefton Saturday. Old Boys opened with an early 17-0 lead inside the first quarter as they used a direct style of running to create plenty of go forward. The first try was scored by Jacob Poynter after Old Boys camped on the Reefton line. Quick hands on the short side left Poynter unmarked who dived over to score. Two minutes later, they doubled their lead when second five eight Alex Lean used his size and strength to score. Their third try inside the opening quarter was scored by lock Sam Hateley who went on a determined run 20 metres from the line to score under the sticks.

Some ill disciple by both teams was quickly stamped out by referee Caleb Neilson as he went to his pocket in the first half to yellow card a player from each side. With Old Boys looking ominous before the break, a loose pass was intercepted by Reefton centre Joe Flexman who showed a clean pair of heels to outflank the Old Boys covering defense and go 60 metres to score under the posts. The conversion from Thor Manawatu closed the gap to 17-7 with just 4 minutes remaining in the first half.

After being staved of possession and territory in the first half, Reefton would have been pleased to be just 10 points adrift as halftime approached. Unfortunately for the Rangers, from the resulting restart, they were unable to control the ball allowing Old Boys a golden opportunity just on halftime from a set-piece scrum inside the Reefton 22 metre line. Lean, who had been hugely affective with is carries all half, again proved to be too big and strong and barged his way over to score for Old Boys to give them a 22-7 lead at halftime.

The second half started much better for the visiting Reefton side who seemed to be treasuring possession much better. After working their way into an attacking position on the field, a resulting penalty allowed Manawatu to kick the ball into the corner to set up a lineout. There was only one option on the table for Reefton once they secured the ball from the lineout and that was a good old fashioned rolling maul. The boys in green and white didn’t disappoint as they rumbled over the line to score with flanker Hayden White being the benefactor.

Reefton, again just trailing by 10 points, were back in the fixture. Both clubs continued to apply pressure to each other with their defensive systems being tested. Old Boys were unable to breach the resolute defense and instead took a penalty goal on the 60 minute mark to extend their lead to 25-12.

Still within two converted tries of victory, Reefton turned up the heat and were rewarded with the try of the day when a full field break out had Bevan Thomson in space who then kicked the ball down field where a desperate Old Boys clean up was needed. From the resulting ruck, Reefton were able to turn the ball over and quickly fire a pass away to first receiver Frank ‘the tank’ Lineham who crossed adjacent to the posts to set up a grandstand finish as Reefton trailed by just 6 points with 5 minutes remaining.

Both teams had their chances in the closing moments with Old Boys needing any scoring play to put the game beyond doubt and Reefton searching for another converted try to steal victory. In the end neither team were able to add to the scoreboard and Old Boys walked away with a tough 26-19 victory.

The win lifts Old Boys to second on the ladder, and Reefton remain in fourth but still capable and well within reaching distance of a semi-final berth.

Referee: Caleb Neilson

Players of the Day:
Westport: Flynn Meadowcroft and Kyle Te Tai & Jamie Tinetti
White Star: Jack Reedy, Bailey Waldren & John Noble
Old Boys: Sam Hateley and Alex Lean
Reefton: Kassidy Neilsen

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