Ratana out-muscled, dashing hopes of repeat performance
HARVEY Round Ratana were not able to repeat their Grand Hotel Challenge Shield heroics of 12 months ago as Waverley Harvesting Border strolled away with a 46-7 victory at Dallison Park on Saturday.
Facing a disjointed start to their campaign, Border’s lineup had a makeshift look about it, but their strong and aggressive forward pack should prove a real asset in future.
Looking to finally be the one to fill the big shoes of Mark Davis, while obviously needing a bigger No 10 jersey, young first-five Jack Lupton acquitted himself well with some accurate goal kicking and clearances in the first half, with the help of a handy wind.
It was only when Border got impatient for their bonus point after halftime that they lost structure, conceeding a breakaway try from fumbles while retention of their lineout ball got scrappy.
Still, Ratana themselves were all at sea at lineout time and were surprisingly out-muscled up front, embarrassingly so at the back end of the match as Border mauled right to the line to lay on one of three late tries.
Border coach Ross Williams will take 50 minutes of good footy with 30 minutes of stumbles at this stage.
“We showed intent and that’s the pleasing thing,” he said. “When we get our shape together, we can go through any defence.”
A key work-on willwould be better communication at lineout time, which would become clearer as players learned their roles, he said.
Kieran Hussey’s migration into the midfield from the loose forwards is likely to be only temporary, while Williams also gave the nod to flanker Angus Middleton for a good game.
Ratana coach Cornel Mason was not offering excuses – the team had lacked execution and were well caught out on their mistakes.
“It’s just probably numbers at the moment – early days for us.”
Mason singled out lock Manuel Kameka for stepping into the leadership role for the injured Vaan Rauhina, but privately, a word to the hot heads like halfback Kane Tamou, second five Alan Penetito and fullback Ihaia Tai would not go amiss. In warm weather, the tempers really began boiling over during the scrappy third quarter, when Penetito and others over-reacted to Border infringements with fists and jersey-pulling, losing penalties they had received.
Discipline was a Border issue as well with Lupton and lock Sam Madams in the thick of it.
Referee Gordon Ririnui would sinbin both halfback Lindsay Horrocks and reserve Kane Brisco for a dangerous lifting tackle, but before Ratana could take advantage Penetito was also binned for rough play.
After Lupton opened Border’s 2015 account with a penalty, Horrocks got a gem of a first try.
It came with a brilliant chip and regather in one arm to dash away under the posts for 10-0 after ten minutes.
Lupton added three more then Hussey forced his way over out wide after Border spread from a Ratana turnover.
All the play was in Ratana’s half as fullback Fraser Middleton spread a missed touch finder to Horrocks.
His loose pass was snapped up by centre James Forsyth to put an excellent flick pass on to winger Tom Symes to score under the posts.
But as Border’s execution deserted them after the break, Ratana winger Weston Hemi pounced on a loose ball and fed Tamou for a breakaway try.
Following 20 minutes where neither team got much traction, a long Fraser Middleton run set the position for a cut out Lupton pass to find Symes for his second try.
After driving Ratana back 20m from a lineout, Border were held up and Horrocks jinked over from the back of the scrum for his second.
With time up, a long Symes dash saw him link with hooker Cole Baldwin, who fed Hussey for another double.