Fri, May 17, 2024 9:44 PM

Blues back on track


Peter Jones

Central retained Tasman Trophy boasting rights on this side of the hill, taking care of fellow Marlborough side Moutere 29-0 in front of a sizeable crowd at Awarua Park tonight.

The Blues have set the benchmark in the top-of-the-south competition over the past two seasons. However, two recent losses have seen their momentum stall, while the Magpies have hinted at their potential for an upset with a couple of handy performances.

The scene was set for a thriller under newly-refurbished lights at Spring Creek, but it never eventuated.

While Moutere showed willing, their opponents bossed the game from the outset, dominating field position and possession.

The fact it took 35 minutes for the first points to be scored was a tribute to the Magpies’ determined defence, allied with Central’s inability to strike the killer blow when close to the line.

On the back of a storming performance from midfielder Ben Filipo who, along with No 8 Jesse MacDonald, fellow loosie Wayden Smith-Page and lock Matt McCormick created momentum with strong carries, the Blues threatened but couldn’t deliver for most of the first half.

The teams await a second half lineout throw. 

Moutere’s ability to sack Central’s lineout drive negated one of their main avenues of attack, while the visiting scrum was often under pressure to clear the ball.

Eventually the home side’s resolve had to crack and, somewhat ironically, it came from a tight head on Central’s feed, the ball eventually being reclaimed by the Blues, whereupon Filipo spied a defensive hole and galloped through for the night’s first points.

A couple of minutes later they had their second, first five Cam Hansford showing speed and twinkle toes to dash over close to the posts.

Neither try was converted, leaving the Blues ahead 10-0 at the break.

With a slight breeze at their backs Moutere were well capable of turning things around, but again were unable to impose themselves on proceedings.

It did not help when, after five minutes, the Blues rolled on replacements Quentin MacDonald, Max Hicks and Braden Stewart – all former Mako players who quickly made their presence felt.

A Stewart surge immediately set up a five-pointer for Smith-Page, then 15 minutes later, busy winger Cody Weir raced over in the corner for the bonus point try, with Hansford landing his first kick of the night.

Ten minutes later Jesse MacDonald wrapped up proceedings with a fifth try from a lineout variation to end a satisfying night for Central and a frustrating time for the home side.

The Magpies were well served by loosies Sekope Lopeti-Moli, Vailua Kaloni and Charles Tupouto’a, halfback Ben Finau, centre Jake Pacey and fullback Kyren Taumoefolau, plus replacements Toby McLeod and Jack Burdon.

Although their inability to secure field position, from where to create multiple phases and pressure their rivals, must be a concern, the home side certainly showed, in patches, a determination to defend staunchly and potential to threaten on counterattack.

Central 29 (Jesse MacDonald, Cam Hansford, Cody Weir, Wayden Smith-Page, Ben Filipo tries, Hansford 2 con) Moutere 0. HT: 10-0.

First XV

Meanwhile, the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV got their Miles Toyota Premiership campaign off to a flying start with a comprehensive victory over Shirley Boys’ High School in Christchurch today.

The Falcons scored six tries on their way to a 41-26 bonus point win, dominating the majority of second spell after the scores were tied 12-12 at the halftime break.

Tryscorers for MBC were prop Tafa Asiata, hooker Jake Gane, flanker Rico Nicklin, halfback Ata Obetaia, first five Anru Erasmus and left winger Mika Vakasilimi. Erasmus and fullback Leo Marfell both added two conversions while replacement Josh Flynn landed a penalty.  Next up for the Falcons is a home game against Timaru BHS on Saturday.

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