The IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2011 kicked off its New Zealand Series on Friday with Tonga A and Fiji Warriors finding the Chiefs Development and Crusader Knights too hot to handle respectively.
The fourth round of the new-look competition provided many highlights and culminated in Samoa A, the leaders after the Australian Series, also suffering defeat, 33-0 to the Hurricanes Development at Porirua Park.
HURRICANES DEVELOPMENT 33-0 SAMOA A
In dry, overcast conditions, the Hurricanes Development side proved too stong for Samoa A, scoring five tries to nil in the third and final match of round four in the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2011.
Hooker Motu Matu’u, centre Charlie Ngatai, second row Api Naikatini and wings Leka Tupuola and Waisake Naholo all scored tries, whilst Daniel Kirkpatrick kicked two penalties and added one conversion.
The visitors created several clear chances during the match but couldn’t capitalise. Faatalatala Fagasoaia was dangerous throughout and provided much of their attacking momentum, while loosehead prop Logovii Mulipola was excellent with the ball in hand.
Sevens star Alafoti Faosiliva also proved a constant threat but could not break down the Hurricanes defence.
Kirkpatrick scored two early penalties in the first half before they crashed over the Samoan line through hooker Matu'u who ran on to a short pass in broken play.
Samoa A immediately put themselves under pressure from the restart that went out on the full and after a subsequent knock-on inside their 22 the Hurricanes side pounced again and Ngatai punched through from close range to make it 18-0 at half time.
Naikatini opened the second half scoring in the 57th minute following an attacking lineout near the corner before 2010 New Zealand Sevens representative Tupuola finished off a slick move by the outside backs to score the fourth try in the 69th minute. Naholo secured the win with the match's fifth try.
“Leading into the game we had limited preparation and the first 20 minutes of this match for us was about finding combinations. But the last 10 minute spell of the first half was very pleasing and we took our chances well,” said Hurricanes' Technical Advisor Jono Phillips.
"We’ll build on this first-up performance, and the rest of the games in this competition are chances to give the players from around the Hurricanes region good opportunities at this level.”
CHIEFS DEVELOPMENT 50-13 TONGA A
Tonga A arrived in New Zealand buoyed by their first victory of the new-look IRB Pacific Rugby Cup earlier this week, but found the Chiefs Development side too hot to handle in losing 50-13 at the Bayer Growers Stadium in Pukekohe.
The match was played in pouring rain, resulting in the early exchanges being dominated by handling errors with both sides finding it difficult to hang on to the slippery ball as the Tongans kept their hosts at bay with some solid defence.
Trent Renata, a former New Zealand Under 20 star, missed a 14th minute penalty attempt, before Tonga A launched a promising break, only to see the space shut down and the Chiefs Development team work their down field for number 8 Matt vant Leven to score the opening try.
The Chiefs Development team then began to take control with centre Phil Burleigh, local favourite Jamie Chipman and Renata crossing for tries to extend the advantage to 24-0 before Tonga A fly half Edmond Paea got the visitors on the board with a penalty just before the break.
Some quick hands by the Chiefs outfit resulted in a second try for second row Chipman in the 50th minute, with former NZ Sevens star Save Tokula adding a sixth try for the hosts before the hour mark.
Paea kicked another penalty, but the Chiefs Development side were in no mood to let up despite the rain continuing to bucket down, flankers Sam Cane and Taiasina touching down to bring up the half century.
There was still time, though, for the Tongans to delight the crowd by going the full length of the field for Paula Kaho to score a consolation try, Viliami Hakalo adding the conversion on the final hooter.
“The weather made it really hard for the boys, they are not used to the wet conditions but it was great to have a run and score that try for our supporters at the end,” admitted Tonga A captain Josateki Veikune.
CRUSADER KNIGHTS 55-7 FIJI WARRIORS
The opening match of the New Zealand Series saw the Crusader Knights prove too strong across the park for the Fiji Warriors, running out convincing 55-7 winners at Carisbrook.
In a match moved to the Dunedin venue following last week’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch, the Knights ran in seven tries against a side which had won two and lost one of their matches on Australian soil last month.
The Crusader Knights opened the scoring with wing Johnny McNicholl’s ninth minute try, but their visitors hit back quickly with centre Ravai Fataki touching down to make it 7-7 as the match shaped up to be an even contest.
However, the clinical approach of the New Zealand side, featuring a number of Baby Blacks who won the IRB Junior World Championship title last year, ultimately proved too much for the flair of the Pacific Islanders.
Both sides displayed plenty of endeavour throughout, with fly halves Taniela Maravunawasawasa and Tyler Bleyendaal looking to release the players outside, although the Knights had better execution and were deserving winners.
Full back Sam Monaghan, centre Sione Holani and captain Luke Whitelock all crossed for first half tries as the Crusader Knights began to pull clear of the Warriors to establish a commanding 31-7 advantage at the break.
The Crusader Knights picked up where they had left off with McNicholl claiming his second try of the afternoon within minutes of the restart, before prop Andrew Olorenshaw scored either side of a try from second row Luke Romano.
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