2015 is the Year of the Goat. The Old Boys University Goat, that is.
The Old Boys University Goats fans and supporters were dancing in the Porirua Park stand earlier this evening after their team’s Wellington Lions centre Wes Goosen plucked a high kick out of the air and scored in the Porirua Park clubrooms corner to take the score in the Jubilee Cup final to 30-20 with several minutes to play.
But their hearts were pounding a few minutes later when reserve MSP lock Nick Harrison crashed over to score their third consecutive try of the second half from a forwards drive and evergreen first five-eighth Fa’atonu Fili added the conversion to close the score up to 30-27.
MSP then had a concerted period on attack in the dying moments, working their way up field to force a penalty or a Fili dropped goal to force extra time.
A hallmark of OBU’s play all year has been their swarming, never-say-die defence, and this was up to the task to the very end when fulltime was blown and OBU were crowned champions for the first time in the amalgamated club’s history.
MSP had previously stormed right back into the final, after trailing 6-25 with about 20 minutes remaining.
OBU had played with more organisation and more endeavour, more effective in moving the ball, in the wet conditions that the final was played in.
Their reward was two first half tries to right wing Joe Hill and a decisive 18-6 lead at halftime.
Joe Hill was named the Jim Brown Player of the Final winner at the conclusion of the final.
Both teams showed their positive intent from the opening exchanges. MSP had a strong foray up into OBU’s half, but the ball was turned over and the Goats counterattacked through centre Wes Goosen and fullback Sam Chamberlain.
Playing with the wind at their backs, the Goats had the first points scoring chance, but Chamberlain pulled his opening kick of the final wide.
Two minutes later, Chamberlain was successful with a 48 metre penalty on the angle to put the top qualifiers in front 3-0.
Chamberlain doubled their lead to 6-0 with his second penalty after 18 minutes.
MSP first five-eighth Fa’atonu Fili, went close to sparking his team’s first try, spying a hold behind the OBU defensive line and chipping ahead for himself but the OBU defender held his line, Fili was blocked from following through and OBU flyhalf Hamish Buick got back on defence.
OBU shunted MSP off their own scrum ball and cleared. But won a penalty and Fili kicked a 38 metre penalty to make it 6-3 to OBU with over a quarter of the final played.
With steady rain now falling, the Goats turned big defence into the first try of the 2015 Jubilee Cup final.
MSP No. 8 Peniasi Tokakece ran a second phase crash ball from a lineout, but was met in a crunching tackle by OBU’s midfield.
OBU counterattacked and right wing Joe Hill ghosted across MSP’s posts all the way to the tryline to score. Chamberlain failed to add to conversion but the Goats were ahead 11-3.
The Red Machine swung straight back on to attack and were desperately unlucky not to score their first try. Coming back for a penalty in front of the posts, Fili threw the ball over to close the gap to 11-6 after 30 minutes.
Both sides created chances in the lead-up to halftime. Fili missed a tough penalty attempt, while OBU right wing Joe Hill stripped the ball off a defender, set off but shelled the ball forward.
Hill was in the game soon after, feeding off a MSP mix up at the back and chasing up his own grubber kick to beat the cover defence to the ball to slide in to score his second try. Chamberlain put the icing on the cake to this try and OBU held a decisive 18-6 at halftime, turning into the breeze and the rain.
The opening stanza of the final remained tense and willing, as MSP, through the boot of Fili and driving play of their tight forwards kept OBU pinned deep in their territory.
OBU’s defence was up to the task, and they broke out of danger through Hill.
The Goats went out to a 25-6 lead in emphatic fashion with a pushover try to No. 8 Teariki Ben Nicholas, converted by fullback Sam Chamberlain.
MSP were chasing their 15th Jubilee Cup and weren’t about to lie down.
They came right back at OBU and hooker Valentine Meachen darted at the line to score their first try of the match. First five-eighth Fa’atonu Fili converted to close the gap to 25-13 with 15 minutes to play.
MSP hit back a second time, No. 8 Peniasi Tokakece diving over the chalk and Fili converting from out wide and OBU’s lead was now 25-20.
Old Boys University held their composure and scored their match winner through centre Goosen, who chased up a kick by replacement first five-eighth Danny Tuistala, to put them ahead 30-20 with just a few minutes
Scores: Old Boys University 30 (Joe Hill 2, Teariki Ben Nicholas, Wes Goosen tries; Sam Chamberlain 2 pen, 2 con) beat Marist St Pat’s 27 (Valentine Meachen, Peniasi Tokakece, Nick Harrison tries Fa’atonu Fili 2 pen, 3 con).HT: 18-6
Upper Hutt Rams capture Hardham Cup
The Upper Hutt Rams are the 2015 Hardham Cup champions.
A more accurate Rams defeated Johnsonville 22-19 in the final in difficult conditions in the early afternoon final at Porirua Park this afternoon.
Led by their bustling loose forward combination of No. 8 Murphy Taramai and flankers Mitchell Markov and Josh Hunt, and lock Sam Wasley, the all-action Rams raced to a 19-0 lead at halftime.
Five penalties to second five-eighth Joyner Key and a well taken try off a lineout drive to hooker Eli Hunt propelled the Rams to victory. With the wind at their backs, Johnsonville came back in the second spell and centre Roy Kinikinilau scored a well-deserved brace.
The rain stayed away for the Hardham Cup final, as the Hawks made a breezy start, retaining possession from the kick-off and openisde flanker Louis Bursting through on an angled run.
Two of the front rowers charged at the chalk and Johnsonville were called back for a penalty – but prolific recent points scorer Tiwi Davies pulled this early opportunity wide.
The Rams got field positon and second five-eighth Joyner Key made no mistake with his team’s first penalty chance and the Rams went ahead 3-0.
After going wide to the dangerous centre Roy Kinikinilau and left wing Ash Vaka-Vili, Johnsonville swung their attack back the other way. Murphy Taramai was caught up off side, but Davies missed a second handy penalty.
Key kicked a second penalty from 39 metres, doubling the Rams’ lead to 6-0 after 15 minutes.
Johnsonville second five-eighth Vili Dakunimata knocked on running the ball back from under his posts. Luckily for the Hawks, his opposite Key also spilled the ball forward in prime position.
But the Rams wheeled Johnsonville’s next attacking scrum and won the put-in under their posts. The move was stopped, but Johnsonville again conceded a penalty. This time, Upper Hutt drove hooker Eli Hunt over the line for the game’s first try. Key converted, and the Rams were up 13-0 midway through the first half.
The errors kept coming for Johnsonville, this time off their own lineout throw, and the Rams were almost in again but for a slight knock-on out wide. Johnsonville’s scrum was put under pressure again and they could only clear enough for Upper Hutt to run the ball back at them again.
Murphy Taramai almost broke through the screen, but his side was awarded another penalty and Key kicked them to a 16-0 lead after half an hour.
The Rams continued to look likely in the lead-up to halftime. In the dying moments, Key lined up his fourth penalty and sent it through to put them ahead 19-0 at the halftime interval.
Now with the wind and needing to cut down their error rate, the Hawks got themselves in the game early in the second with a sustained period of possession. Locks Manassah Wineera and Anthony Petett and replacement Sean Bridge all prominent.
Off a lineout in the corner, they crossed the whitewash through centre Roy Kinikinilau, but he was held up. Kinikinilau was involved twice in some more phase play under the Rams’ posts, but it he that knocked on and the Rams protected their lead.
But not for long, that man Kinikinilau in the action again, running strongly up the shortside from a attacking scrum and scoring Johnsonville’s first try. Davies converted from out wide, cutting the Rams’ lead to 19-7 with about 25 minutes to play.
The Rams were immediately on to attack from the re-start, forcing the Hawks into a scrambling operation. They couldn’t escape referee Ringrose’s whistle, however, and Key kicked his fifth penalty to extend their lead to 22-7.
A long period of scrappy play ensued, before Johnsonville got themselves back into opposition territory. After a strong build-up, one of their props crashed over. Davies missed the conversion and the Rams now led 22-12.
Johnsonville kept themselves in the hunt until the end and, fittingly, Kinikinilau raced through to score with the last play of the game. Davies added the extras and the final score was 22-19.
Upper Hutt Rams 22 (Eli Hunt tries Joyner Key 5 pen, 2 con) beat Johnsonville 19 (Roy Kinikinilau 2, TBC tries, Tiwi Davies con). Halftime Upper Hutt Rams 19-0
Jubilee Cup Premier | 01 August 2015 | Steven White – ClubRugby.co.nz