[Photography courtesy of Robert O’Hara, Impact Photography]
The Northern Swords finished their 2015 NZRL National Premiership campaign with another solid performance on Saturday, against the defending champions and 2015 finalists the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls. Even though the score board showed a 56 – 20 loss, there were again lots of positives to be had from the match. For the first 10 minutes it looked possible that the Swords may do the unthinkable and knock over the Bulls as the Swords looked structured and composed as they played out their sets and controlled the defense line. The Swords were the first team to score through play maker Kyle Hool, however this only spurned the Bulls pack into action. Led by inspiration Captain, Chris Bamford, the Bulls were able to gain momentum through their superior size and strength and were able to turn the smaller Swords players around and capitalise through their slick outside backs.
The Bulls took a 32 – 6 half time lead. However, come the second half, the Swords came back out to play. Outmatched by size by the Bulls pack, the Swords looked to spread the ball and were able to expose the Bulls outside backs. The Swords back line was impressive as halves Brodee Palmer and Kyle Hool showed some inspirational vision and passing skills, presenting centres, Caleb Aekins and Anaru Thompson with room to move. Israel Tahere on the wing was fearless with his early ball carries, setting up an 80 metre try going through 5 sets of hands for Thompson to dot down. Tahere and Hool were rewarded with their effort with two tries each.
The Swords were well beaten in the end by a team that deserves to be in the finals. However they competed and they competed well. The difference on the day probably can be explained by physics. The Bulls pack were simply too big and too strong for a smaller Swords pack. Across the field the Bulls average pack weight would have easily been 105kg, with the Swords having only maybe two players tipping 100kgs. Jon Renes,his coaching staff and playing group should be very proud of the result and of the season.
“We have shown that we have the potential to build a good squad based around youth with a handful of old heads. The young guys are keeping the older ones honest, pushing them for places. As an organisation, our priority rightly or wrongly, hasn’t been about our Senior Swords team, it’s been about building the foundations of the organization and making League in Northland credible. We have done this now we have seen massive growth in playing numbers at Club and school level (620 total in 2010 to over 3000 in 2015), we now feel that we can start to focus on the bigger picture which will include increased emphasis on developing the player pathways.
We are talking with some potential funders about supporting a Coach and Club Development role, combining this with stronger links with the Warriors and with the Penrith Panthers. If we can keep our squad together for the 2016 campaign, build on it with a few of our 17s making the step up, plus recruit a few more of the experienced premier players then I’m sure we will see improved results in seasons to come at a national level.” Alex Smits RLN General Manager said.
Another positive from the game is the partnership being developed between Channel North and RLN with the game streaming live, which provides people across NZ an opportunity to tune in and watch a professionally presented game . To watch at your leisure click on the following link.
Rockcote Canterbury Bulls 56 (Jordan Kane 2, Danny Latu, Matt Sauni, Penitito Ilalio, Jack Mundy, Izic Placid, Paradise Mann, Paul Sauni, Phil Nati & Jiordan Fidow-Kele tries; James Baxendale 5 & Placid goals)
Northern Swords 20 (Israel Tahere 2 & Kyle Hool 2 tries; Anaru Thompson 2 goals); HT: 32-6
Click here – to view Sparkies v Chippies and Northern Swords v Canterbury Bulls games at Toll Stadium on Saturday 10th October.
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