The Northern Swords 17s have one more game to go, to put Northland on the map. In a record breaking season, the Swords currently share the top of the table with the Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays – who all have four wins and one loss in the competition.
The Benson Selwyn coached 17s, bounced back from last week’s heavy loss to the Stingrays with a tense 28 – 20 win, over a classy Wellington Orcas team, at Hikurangi Rugby Ground on Saturday 5th October. Both teams needed the victory to have any chance of making the finals. The Orcas came out with fire in their belly, bringing a physical contest to Hikurangi. Their forward pack were rugged on attack and defence. On the back of the Orcas forwards dominance, a slick back line threaten every time they moved the ball.
The Orcas were first to score, with Kiwi 16s halfback slicing through the defence line. Rugged Swords loose forward, JD Fisher Harris hit back almost immediately and he punched his way through the Orcas D line from 15 metres out. The Orcas looked to be dominating at with a 16 – 10 lead as both teams went for half time oranges.
Coach Benson Selwyn then gave the Swords a “think piece” and challenged them to do better, “Are you happy being the big guns ONLY in Northland, or do you want to challenge on a National Stage” Selwyn put to his charges. The National stage was the choice his team took as they outscored the Orcas by 18 – 4 in a tense and exciting second half. Haane Rudolph grabbed a double with two identical cheeky darts from dummy half. While JD Fisher Harris repeated his first half effort in the exact format as he crashed over. Pana Matiu sealed the victory on the back of a Swords smooth back line with less than two minutes on the clock to win 28 – 20 in a great free flowing game of footy!
For the Swords 17s, the season to date has been a huge success. Before 2013 in the previous three years of the competitions the Swords17s had only won one game. So to be one game away from the finals is major success story. The Swords 17s play against the Akarana Falcons on Sunday 13th October at Cornwall Park at 1.00pm. With the winner securing a place in the final on Monday 20th October – live on SKY TV.
NORTHERN SWORD 17s – Full Time Score 28 Tries: K RIPIKOI, I JOB, H RUDOLPH (2), J FISHER-HARRIS (2); Goals: D FULOP; Half Time Score: 10
WELLINGTON 17s – Full Time Score 20 Tries: I SOPOAGA, L CUMMINGS, J KATOA, P FINE; Goals: D MELVIN (2); Half Time Score: 16
The Otangarei Knights smashed a hapless Horahora Broncos 68 – 0. The Broncos who over the last couple of weeks showed they can play good football with a win over Kerikeri and a close loss to the Pioneers, never had the chance to get into the match, as the Knights blitzed them across the paddock. The win is the Knights’ second in a row and shows what they are capable of when they play disciplined league.
The Hokianga Pioneers suffered their first loss of the season to the Hikurangi Stags in a close match 36 – 26. The Stags confirm their place at the top of the table, could they possibly win 4 Premier titles in a row? Standing in their way will be the Takahiwai Warriors who are the only team to remain unbeaten (Stags have played an extra game) with their demolition of the Muriwhenua Kuaka 60 – 0. The result not surprising, but the score line was, considering it was a Muriwhenua home game.
Portland, move onto the same points as Hokianga (3rd Equal), as they defeated the winless Kerikeri Makos. While the Tigers continued their slow start to the season after going down to the Northern Wairoa Bulls 44 – 30 in a tough end to end game. The Bulls are a solid team while the Tigers showed enough form to suggest that they will be contenders towards the end of the season.