1st XV Rugby v St Pat's Town
Saturday 11 May
The second round of the Hurricanes Preseason Festival saw the 1st XV travel to Gisborne to play St Pat's Town from Wellington. Gisborne turned on the weather and the game was played on a hard and fast track under a warm autumnal sun.
As has been the theme over the last two weeks, the team started well and placed the opposition under pressure in the right parts of the field. The tight play of the forwards has been developing well and this again was our go-to for the start of the game and paid dividends with big carries up the middle of the park. Our composure, absent from the latter half of the previous game, was more evident and, through sustained pressure, we were again able to open the scoring with two quick tries – one from the back of the scrum to Elyjah Crosswell and the second to the hard charging Darius Mafileo. The scrum was placing the St Pat's Town under pressure and we were able to use this to our advantage regardless of whose feed it was – the work by young tighthead Raymond Tuputupu in particular pleasing to the eye. As the half wore on, St Pat's Town were able to work their way back into the game as we started to slip off our tackles with fairly passive technique and we didn’t work hard enough of the ball. They scored an opening try of their own after such errors and at the half, it was 10 – 7 to the 1st XV.
The message at the half was to shore up our defence technically and to have more urgency around the clean at breakdown time to speed the game up. Initially, it was our defence that was tested as St Pat's Town kept us camped in our 22. We had a number of opportunities to exit, but execution became an issue. We were however far more reliable in our tackle and held the opposition up twice over the line showing a fair amount of resilience. Then finally we executed a counter off a quick turnover, spread the ball wide and Ruben Love ran in a 90 metre try after some fine work - first from Soane Fakahau then Matty Oldridge and Tavita Henare-Schuster. Straight from the kick-off, we reacted to another turnover and Jayden Keelan scored a fourth try after a dogged pursuit of a kick. The game continued to ebb and flow between the 22’s with both sides having further opportunities to score. Bryn Gordon scored our fifth try after some good tryline attack before a system breakdown on set piece defence allowed the impressive St Pat's Town 12 to break through and put his team mate over.
Final score was a 31-14 win. Again this team showed that it is a work in progress with more improvement seen in composure and accuracy. We are far from the finished product, but are training hard to get there.
Thanks again to the White Jersey Club and our sponsors New Zealand Specialised Coatings, NZ Travel Brokers, Higgins Concrete, McDonalds Palmerston North and McVerry Crawford for their assistance during this season – it certainly is much appreciated!!
Tries: Elyjah Crosswell, Darius Mafileo, Ruben Love, Jayden Keelan, Bryn Gordon
Conversions: Ruben Love x 3