This game was the Magpies last at home for season 2011. Whilst Head Coach
Leo Epifania was keen to see his team continue their recent good form he knew
the Wolves were desperate for the win which would put them one point outside
the top eight with two rounds remaining in the regular competition.
The Magpies had the early field advantage, but could not get across the visitors
try line, but in the 10th minute Windsor took full advantage after the Magpies
dropped the ball on the last tackle deep in their own half.
After winning the scrum on the Magpies twenty metre line, the Wolves put on
a sweeping back line movement. The ball was passed to fullback Ryan Walker
who ran a perfect line to beat the cover defense to score the first try of the
afternoon. Five eight Blake Austin guided the ball between the posts to put his
team up 6 points to nil.
The Wolves looked menacing when in possession, but scrambling defense from
the Magpies stopped them short of the try line on a number of occasions.
In the 19th minute the Magpies would level the score at the end of an inspired
patch of football. The ball was taken forward by lock forward David Harris who
drew players to him before off loading the ball to center Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
Tuatara-Morrison drifted towards the sideline before flinging a one handed
pass to wing three quarter Amanono Tovio. Tovio then cut back infield before
throwing the perfect dummy on his way to the try line. David Fifita’s conversion
locked the score up at 6 points all.
The remainder of the half would see both teams make a number of unforced
errors, turning the ball over at crucial times. Those at the ground knew that the
side that got their act together would get away with the win.
Midway through the first half, West’s lock forward David Harris injured his leg
before leaving the field. He took no further part in the game.
During the break, Leo Epifania spoke about finishing the season on a good note;
it was just a matter of how much they wanted to win the game.
Windsor made the early running in the second half. After receiving a penalty
close to the Magpies posts, it was a bit of a surprise when they took the option
of kicking for goal after only five minutes of play. Blake Austin’s conversion put
his team ahead by two points, but there was still a long way to go.
The Magpies replied with a solid defensive effort that paid dividends in the 12th
minute when a ball came loose in a jolting tackle. West’s were given the scrum
feed on the Wolves twenty metre line before a couple of settling runs took them
close to the visitors try line. In the next play, prop David Fifita cut from the open
to the blind side before picking out second row forward Leivaha Pulu who hit the
gap perfectly to cross for a well constructed try. Fifita put his team up 12 points
to 8, but it was still anyone’s game.
Within two minutes, West’s were in again. This time it was a long-range effort
from fullback Rhys Lenarduzzi who had supported the ball carriers down the
center of the field. His commitment certainly paid off when the ball came back
to him with the line in sight. Showing a good turn of speed he sprinted away
for a good try. Half Marc Russell made sure of the extra points to increase the
Magpies lead to 18 points to 8.
The Wolves, to their credit, took the game to the home team. Their halves
put in great attacking kicks, which game them several repeat sets. Despite
a fair bit of possession, they were unable to crack the Magpies line. On two
occasions they looked as if they had scored, only for the referee to rule a double
movement and a dropped ball.
The Magpies made sure of the win in the 30th minute when hooker Troy
O’Sullivan scored alongside the posts. It came after Leivaha Pulu off loaded
to Marc Russell who had backed up on the inside. He in turn passed onto a
charging Aaron Sweeney who pushed through a couple of tackles. The play
seemed to end before Sweeney, with players hanging onto him, picked out Troy
O’Sullivan who showed plenty of determination to beat his pursuers to the try
line. Fifita continued his fine kicking display, claiming third goal of the game.
The Magpies have certainly put in a number of strong performances in recent
weeks and hope to take that form with them when they play Auckland Vulcan’s
in round 26 – the last game of the regular season.
Scorers for the Magpies – Tries to Amanono Tovio, Leivaha Pulu, Rhys
Lenarduzzi and Troy O’Sullivan. 3 conversions to David Fifita and 1 to Marc
Scorers for the Wolves – 1 try to Ryan Walker with Blake Austin kicking 1
conversion and 1 penalty.
Leos best three – Amanono Tovio, Leivaha Pulu and Arthur Little.
Player’s player medallion – Leivaha Pulu.
The Magpies have a bye in round 25 before heading to Auckland to play
the Vulcan’s in round 26 on Saturday 3 September 2011.