Seddon Shield 
July 30, 2023, 2:30 pm
Buller RU
37 - 29
Marlborough
Murchison
Buller RU
Referee: Tim Harwood (Tasman)

Match Report

The Francis Mining Buller side have started their season with a tense 37-29 victory over Marlborough in Murchison on Sunday. Played in warm and sunny conditions, Buller’s win now gives them a Seddon Shield challenge next weekend against Nelson who later defeated holders West Coast to lift the historic Shield.

The win was a great way to open the season for Buller who were able to celebrate 8 debutants in the process. Across the park there were plenty of standout performers which will give the management team plenty to be excited about for what lies ahead.

The Red Devils were the first to open their accounts when five eighth Corey Bovey knocked over an early penalty goal to lead 3-0. Buller looked strong when they had possession, and they were winning the gain line through the strong carries of hooker Leopino Maupese and second five-eight Louis Devery. The Reefton midfielder in was in dynamic early season form, busting tackles at will and causing all sorts of trouble for the Marlborough defence. After going 12 phases inside the Marlborough half, Buller were rewarded with a try when number 8 George Reeves received the ball on the left edge and sold a dummy to then race away 20 metres to score and give Buller a 5-3 lead after 10 minutes.

Buller were showing great patience on attack and looked like they were about to extend their lead before an errant pass inside the Marlborough red zone was gobbled up by the Marlborough right winger who raced away 80 metres to score against the run of play and give Marlborough a 10-5 lead after 13 minutes.

The Buller defence was holding firm, led well by locks Ben Pratt and Rowan Neilsen while loose forwards Kyle Te Tai and Taine Brownlee were also in the thick of it and playing with good energy.

Buller were able to regain the lead after 24 minutes when big prop forward Tapi Allen found his way over the try line. After sustained pressure on the line, the ball found it’s way to the left edge where some lovely slight of hand by Jack Parker found Allen in space who strolled over to score and give Buller a 12-10 lead.

Buller then extended that lead just moments later when Parker gave Buller an excellent attacking opportunity after he kicked a 50:22. From the resulting attacking lineout, the ball landed in the hands of Reeves who beat two defenders and then accelerated through the gap to score an excellent individual try. Parker’s conversion had Buller now leading 19-10.

The Red Devils were able to bounce back almost immediately as a missed exit from Buller resulted in an attacking scrum for Marlborough where they were able to score in the corner from the first phase.

Leading 19-15 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Buller was able to create another scoring play when Reeves made a telling break up the middle of the field. He was able to then find replacement lock Isei Lewaqai who produced a miracle offload which resulted in a try to Parker to give Buller a 26-15 lead.

Reeves was becoming a clear standout in the fixture with his strong ball carrying and efficient work at the lineout. The number 8 looks to be an excellent loan recruit for Buller out of the Crusaders Academy and was leading the way for the Buller forward pack who were working well at the breakdown to allow their attack to put together big passages of play.

With time expiring in the first half, Buller found themselves conceding penalties which gave Marlborough good field position. Inside the Buller red zone, Marlborough were able to set up a rolling maul from an attacking lineout. As they approached the line, a Buller infringement resulted in a penalty try awarded to Marlborough and Te Tai getting issued a yellow card. The automatic 7 points meant Marlborough were able to close the margin to just four points as Buller led 26-22 at the halftime break.

The second half started with Buller controlling much of the possession. Devery was again making big metres in midfield in a scintillating return to the Buller jersey. His midfield partner Joel Hands was outstanding in defence, picking up three crucial turnovers for Buller by using his strong presence over the ball.

Buller were eventually able to convert the pressure into points as the ball was shifted to fullback Jesse Pitman-Joass who threw a lovely cut-out ball to find winger Mitieli Kaloudigibeci who was left unmarked and able to score. After 55 minutes, Buller led 31-22.

Buller were getting excellent impetus from their bench with Dylan Rusbatch, Blaine Meikle and Rap Tuala-Tamalelagi making a great impact. Playmakers Parker and Pitman-Joass were controlling Buller’s attack while halfback Jesse Elley showed why he will be a big asset this season with his high defensive workrate and exceptional organisational skills, directing his forward pack around.

As the game entered the final quarter, Buller co-captain Pitman-Joass was able to extend the Buller lead when he kicked a penalty goal after 63 minutes and then kicked a further long-range penalty after 68 minutes to give Buller a crucial 15-point lead with 12 minutes to play. Marlborough were able to have the final say when they scored a converted try, however it was not enough to stop a Buller side from recording an excellent first-up win to start the season.

Buller head coach Nathan Thompson was pleased with the team’s performance saying “our focus today was on collective effort. We know the execution will come with time together as a group, but for this match it was about effort and intent and the group should feel really proud of that 80 minutes”.

Buller now turn their focus to Nelson next weekend which shapes up as a Seddon Shield final. Nelson had to turn around a 21-0 deficit to overcome West Coast late in their fixture on Sunday and were able to do so to become the new holders of the Seddon Shield.

Referee – Tim Harwood (Tasman)

Lineup

Name TR CON PEN DG Cards
1
1049Placeholder Tapi Allen
1
2
3
0987 Anthony W. Ellis (c)
4
5
6
7
8 2
9
10 1 3
11
1031Placeholder Alex Lean
12
13
14 1
15 2

Subs

Name TR CON PEN DG Cards
16
Placeholder Flynn Craddock Ehipa Thompson
17
0929 Stephen Robert Crackett Tapi Allen
18
1056Placeholder Ehipa Thompson Leopino Maupese
19
1028Placeholder Dylan G. Rusbatch Ben R. Pratt
20
1067Placeholder Rapture Tuala-Tamalelagi Taine Brownlee
21
959Placeholder Isei Nagusu T. Lewaqai Rowan Neilsen
22
1066Placeholder Blaine Meikle Mitieli Kaloudigibeci
23
1068Placeholder Samuel Holman Alex Lean
24
Placeholder Maddox Manawatu Samuel Holman