PERSISTENCE and patience carried the day for Waverley Harvesting Border as they won the game of human chess under lights with a determined Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau on Friday night, 38-14.
Down 7-3 against the run of play following an intercept try, and facing a visiting side that was tackling ferociously, Border looked to their strong forward pack to re-establish dominance in the second quarter.
They delivered with over half a dozen Kaierau scrums being either turned or the ball captured when it spilled out the side, along with continuous turnovers at the breakdown to deny the city team any traction.
In turn, there was seemingly nothing the Kaierau forwards could do right in the third and fourth phases – referee Gordon Ririnui whistled a mounting penalty count for infringement, with Border first-five Jack Lupton popping over four straight kicks to turn the balance his team’s way.
While they weren’t flawless, Lupton and fullback Fraser Middleton knew where to boot the ball for maximum returns.
Having given and taken a battering up front, Kaierau were beginning to tire and that’s when Border pounced – scoring four second-half tries including a hat-trick to standout flanker Kieran Hussey.
Kaierau’s dangerous veteran backs in Areta Lama and Ace Malo were able to peg it back slightly with a brilliant 70m kick and chase try, but Border swooped on two desperate Kaierau mistakes under pressure to run in late tries and remain the only undefeated Tasman Tanning Premier team.
“Kaierau came out firing, they put us under a lot of pressure,” said Border coach Ross Williams.
“Credit to our boys, they stuck at it and scored some good tries.
“Kieran was outstanding, the way he hit rucks and carried the ball.”
While Kaierau were not pleased with the penalty count, coach Keith Savell felt they now have the self belief to compete with the top teams.
“Silly mistakes, they scored four tries off us giving them the ball. Our scrums were better in the second half – a couple of changes.
“If we can get a little bit more ball, I think we’re on the improve there.”
Both sides went back and forth for early territory, with Kaierau’s prop Cade Robinson making the hard yards while flankers Joe Edwards and Joel Martin rattled off some bone jarring hits.
But Border had Hussey, lock Sam Madams and No8 Ray Stark ready to do the tough stuff, while Sikeli Bobo had moved back from the wing onto the open side.
Bar fullback Taylor Kirkwood snatching an intercept and running 45m to make the score 7-3 Kaierau could get no other field position for the rest of the half.
And after some early misses, Jack Lupton found his groove to land three straight penalties to make it 12-7
That then became 19-7 when Ulukuta caught Kaierau napping down a narrow blindside at the corner flag and passed up to Hussey.
Hussey then made a midfield intercept of his own and turned on the gas to seemingly take the match away in the 60th minute.
However, Kaierau’s veterans responded with an outstanding try of their own as Border misread Lama’s intentions – chipping into space at the 22m for Malo to swoop through and race to the other end, his overhead pass when tackled at the line ended up with Lama for 26-14.
But it proved only a fleeting hope as Border swarmed Kaierau’s line as trapped centre Kameli Kuruyabaki tried a desperate grubber, letting the home side work through a series of phases for Hussey to power over for try No3.
Joe Edwards tried one last surging run for Kaierau, but the ball was spilled and speedy reserve back Tyrone Albert snatched it to run all the way to the far corner post.
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle