Pros vs Am’s: Centurions run riot against Whanganui Development XV
By Jared Smith
The Kaierau Country Club electronic scoreboard was in danger of malfunctioning on Saturday without the ability to register a triple digit.
It was an unfortunate perfect storm where following Covid delays which meant their neighbours are struggling to muster teams below the Bunnings Heartland Championship squads, that a Whanganui Development XV which has a fluid roster themselves had to be matched up against near professional-level competition.
Wellington Centurions, the backup side for the Wellington Lions squad and containing several players with NPC experience and others from the Hurricanes Super Rugby programme (Under 20, Development) smashed the home side 99-0, scoring 15 tries.
Having had the advantage of a full schedule of games, heading into their last match against Hawke’s Bay Saracens next weekend, the Centurions were just too fast and too polished for the makeshift Whanganui lineup, who had brought in veterans like Ace Malo and CJ Stowers to fill backline gaps.
Before the Level 4 pause, Centurions had beaten the full Steelform Whanganui side 19-12 in Porirua, and it appeared lockdown has not slowed them down as they just out-ran the home side with speed and skill with their offloads.
Halfback Kyle Preston either backed up his team mates or just took off from rucks to score three tries, while winger Roderick Solo was nigh-on uncatchable down the sideline for his hat trick.
At one point in the first half, Solo took an inaccurate pass behind him, stood to let four Whanganui cover defenders sweep past his shoulder, and then from that standing start just bolted 30m through the small gap they left behind to run under the posts.
After scoring a double against the Heartland side in August, reserve winger Ethan Webster-Nonu came on in the second half to add another brace of tries.
Whanganui had but two chances to register points – young first-five Jack O’Leary hacked a dropped ball ahead and was winning the race until it went dead in-goal, while prop Renato Tikoisolomone crossed the line but just couldn’t hold onto the pill.
In the final moments, the only challenge left was trying to avoid the dreaded 100, as the scoreboard read 85-0 with nine minutes remaining.
Centurions only increased their urgency, breaking tackles and living in Whanganui’s 15m, but after crossing in the corner to make it 97-0 and dashing back to halfway, the referee informed them they didn’t need to hurry the conversion, because slotting it was the last play.
Wellington Centurions 99 (Kyle Preston 3, Roderick Solo 3, Ethan Webster-Nonu 2, Penieli Poasa, Losi Filipo, Hugo Plummer, Ha’amea Ahio, Callum Harkin, Luca Rees, Kaleb Sinclair tries; Pakai Turia 7 con, Callum Harkin 5 con) bt Whanganui Development XV 0. HT: 52-0.
COLLEGIATE: The Whanganui Collegiate youth teams had strong finishes to their MRU seasons with championships last week. After Covid delays on finals, WCS Under 15 won the MRU Youth 2 division, beating Tararua Youth 25-15 in the final. The WCS Under 14 side won the MRU Youth 4 division, beating QEC Youth 36-7 in their final.
GIRLS REP: It was a tough Saturday for the WRFU Girls teams against their Manawatu counterparts. The Under 18’s lost to Manawatu 66-10 in Palmerston North, with tries by Paris Munro and Tamaliyah Bogileka. The Under 15’s were beaten 65-0 at Spriggens Park.
MILESTONES: A number of milestones were recognised after Steelform Whanganui’s win over Wairarapa Bush at Cooks Gardens on Saturday. Hooker Roman Tutauha played his 75th first-class game, with halfback Lindsay Horrocks having also reached that mark the week before with Mid Canterbury. Reserve back Timoci (Jim) Seruwalu played his blazer game, which is his 15th cap.