Harbour Point Scorers: Dan Laseu try; Jarrod Soar pen.
Harbour hosted Wellington at Harvey Wright in Harbour’s final game of the season. Against a team stacked with Wellington Premier players Harbour knew they were in for a tough game.
In wet and windy conditions Harbour again started strongly and put pressure on the Wellington line from the kick off. Good defence kept them out and as the game settled down possession evened out and play see-sawed from one end to the other.
15 minutes into the half Wellington mounted a strong attack through the mid-field and with good use of dummy runners and the blind side winger moved into the Harbour 22 and scored beside the posts to take a 7 – 0 lead.
The next 20 minutes saw Harbour begin to take control of the forward exchanges, especially in the loose. A number of turnovers saw them hot on attack before Wellington conceded a penalty for Jarrod Soar to convert. 7 – 3 after 30 minutes.
From the kick off Harbour surged back into the Wellington 22 with some good play from the backs and excellent support for the forwards. The pressure told in the end with Dan Lasei crossing for a try after 34 minutes. The conversion narrowly missed but Harbour were ahead 8 – 7. Wellington mounted another attack on the Harbour line in the closing minutes of the half but good defence kept them out. A casualty however was harbour’s captain Charles Bradley who had to leave the field with a large cut to his forehead. Half time and 8 – 7 to Harbour.
The second half began with both forward packs coming into the fore as the weather conditions worsened. The packs shared periods of dominance but Harbour could not capitalise on a number of opportunities. Wellington, on the other hand scored after 15 minutes following some good combination between backs and forwards. Harbour were 14 – 8 down with 22 minutes to go.
As the rain got heavier Harbour kept driving up the middle before trying to move the ball a bit wider. A number of penalty shots at goal were turned down as Harbour sought a converted try to win the game. With 5 minutes to go, after a long series of drives towards to line and 5 metre scrums Scott Vaughn appeared to dive over close to the posts but the referee ruled loss of control and the opportunity was lost. From the ensuing scrum Wellington cleared their line and as Harbour desperately looked for a way over the line Wellington forced a turnover. With great passing in the conditions they went 50 metres to score and the game was gone. 21- 8 to Wellington. Maybe not a fair representation of the game, but full credit to Wellington for their strong attack and well organised defence.
Player of the day went to Dan Lasei who was a stalwart in the forwards with strong running and devastating tackling. Special mentions also to Dylan Butler who was so strong in both defence and attack, and to Tom Belson who worked tirelessly all day in the forwards
The team had played with so much pride in representing their Union, as they had in all four games. They are a very skilled group of men with a love of rugby and a desire to play at a high level. The coaches and managers salute them for their efforts, their passion, their pride in representing North Harbour and their acceptance of decisions that may not have gone their way.
North Harbour ventured out West to play Auckland at Waitemata Rugby Park
Harbour took the game to Auckland from the kick-off, winning turn over ball, stringing a number of phases together and putting pressure on the Auckland defence. Forwards and backs combined to move the attack into the Auckland 22. Shifting the ball quickly to the left Isaac Leaumoana went very close to scoring in the corner after a powerful run but a poor clean out gave possession back to Auckland. The next 7 minutes saw Auckland control the ball and move into the Harbour red zone with strong running from their forwards and some exciting play from their backs. Harbours defence was strong however and the pressure they were putting on the Auckland mid-field was forcing errors from their much vaunted backs. It was somewhat surprising then when a basic defensive error saw Auckland score between the posts. 7 – 0 after 10 minutes.
Harbour’s scrum and lineout was not working as effectively as it should have been and Auckland dominated possession for the next 6 minutes. Strong defence kept them out but another penalty stretched Auckland’s lead to 10 – 0 after 18 minutes.
Harbour were getting back into the game by putting pressure on Auckland behind the advantage line and from this pressure Auckland conceded a penalty 35 metres out and Jarrod Soar duly got Harbour on the board. 10 – 3 after 23 minutes. The kick off saw the Harbour forwards control the ball and they continued to put pressure on Auckland’s defence. When Auckland got their hands on the ball they could not breach a swarming harbour defence. Play ranged between 22s before Auckland conceded another penalty for Jarrod Soar to close the gap to 10 – 6 at the half time whistle
Playing into the wind in the second half a huge effort was needed by the Harbour team.
From the kick-off Harbour’s intent was clear. Secure the ball, hang on to it and pressure the Auckland defence. For phase after phase they launched themselves at the Auckland defence making ground up the middle and around the fringes. The set piece was back on song and Harbour was winning ball at scrum and lineout. In a rare visit to Harbour’s territory a soft penalty was conceded by Harbour and, against the run of play, Auckland went further ahead. 13 – 6 with 28 minutes to go.
Harbour continued to dominate possession and territory with strong running from all forwards, notably Brett Crossan who was devastating with the ball in hand and physical at the break down. When Auckland did get the ball and used the wind to kick into Harbour territory Conor Beggs was outstanding at fullback taking the ball cleanly and either returning the kick with interest or setting up the ball for the next phase of attacks. The tackle count mounted against Auckland and Jarrod Soar went so close after a scintillating 40 metre burst from the base of a ruck saw him pulled down a metre out. A penalty missed off the post and nothing was going right for the Harbour team.
Rare ball for Auckland out to the wing and a crunching tackle into touch by Alex Samuels was deemed a shoulder charge by the referee. The shot at goal missed but Alex was in the bin for 10 minutes with 15 minutes to go.
One man down, harbour continued to take the game to Auckland but Auckland’s defence held. 10 minutes passed and despite calls from the side line Alex stayed in the bin. Another 5 minutes passed and with Harbour still 6 points down they launched one last attack from inside their own half. A forced error however, saw Auckland pounce on a loose ball and move it quickly to the wing. With one back still in the bin the cover was light and Auckland were able to run 40 metres to score in the corner.
A disappointed Harbour team watched the conversion miss and the game was over. An 18 – 6 win to Auckland but the Harbour team could hold their heads high and be very proud of their performance.
The tackle count in the second half was Harbour 22 tackles, Auckland 78 which demonstrated Harbour’s dominance of possession but luck and the whistle did not go their way. All credit to the Auckland team who defended well for long periods of play.
Player of the Day went to No 8 Brett Crossan who was outstanding at the break down and with the ball in hand. Special mention also to Conor Beggs who was so solid and enterprising at the back and to Jarrod Soar for a fantastic game, initially at first 5/8 and then at half back
North Harbour hosted Waikato at Silverdale on Saturday 10 September in a must win game for them after their loss to Counties last week.
Harbour started strongly playing into the wind and controlled possession with great inter-change between forwards and backs. After going close to scoring a try they were rewarded with a penalty in front to go ahead 3 – 0 after 2 minutes. From the kick off Harbour exited well and soon had Waikato under pressure again Three quick penalties to Waikato however saw them venture into the Harbour 22 for the first time and from a well-executed set piece move they scored close to the posts to take the lead 7 – 3 with 9 minutes on the clock.
Harbour regained possession from the kick off and controlled the ball for a number of phases before getting the ball wide to Chad Raynes who showed great pace and evasiveness to run 40 metres down the left hand touch to score handy enough to the posts for Jarrod Soar to convert. 10 – 7 after 15 minutes. Again Harbour controlled the kick off, making ground up the middle and putting pressure on the Waikato goal line. After a number of pick and goes Scott Vaughn darted around the edge of a ruck to score wide out. The conversion was unsuccessful but Harbour had a handy 15 – 7 lead mid-way through the first half.
The second quarter of the game saw Waikato dominate possession as the penalty count against Harbour continued to mount. Using the wind well Waikato attacked with great skill through their backs from inside the Harbour 22 and scored two excellent tries wide out to take a 17 – 15 lead into half time.
Harbour started the second as they started the first with strong defence and a number of turnovers taking them into Waikato territory. A strong break through the middle from Isaac Leaumoana deserved a try but the referee brought play back for a penalty to Harbour. Jarrod Soars kick was successful and Harbour were back in the lead. 18 -17 after 48 minutes.
Harbour continued to give away penalties, mostly for being adjudged offside at the break down. This stopped them building pressure on Waikato, giving away easy territory. Finally, after 55 minutes, Harbour controlled the ball for a sustained period for Jimmy Napier to cap of a great game with a try near the posts. Jarrod Soar again converted to stretch the lead to 25 – 17 with 25 minutes to go.
Waikato were not giving up however and continued to move the ball to their dangerous backs. Great defence kept them out and Harbour continued to win turnovers. Strong running from both forward and backs culminated in a superb break from Brett Crossan who burst free from just outside Harbour’s 22. A chip kick at half way looked very promising but just rolled dead giving Waikato a scrum back on the halfway line. Good pressure in the mid-field saw Waikato concede a penalty 40 metres out and Jarrod Soar kicked it down the middle. 28 – 17 with 12 minutes to go..
Another penalty to Waikato as time was running out gave them good field position to mount one last attack. Time and again their forwards launched themselves at the line and they eventually forced their way over wide out. 28 – 22 with 2 minutes to go.
Waikato threw everything at Harbour from the kick off but excellent defence kept them pinned in their own half before Harbour drove the ball over the side line to end the game.
A well-deserved win to the Harbour side with a vast improvement on ball security compared to the Counties game, excellent defence and some good finishing. An improvement on the penalty count will be one of the priorities for next week.
Player of the Day went to lock Luke Spratt who was outstanding in the tight and around the field. Special mention also to Jimmy Napier who had an excellent game on the wing and to Tom Belson who shone at the breakdown and with the ball in hand.