Eight-try Pirates leave Wicks at the bottom

Photo: SPA Images

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West Harbour have claimed their third victory of an improving season, crossing eight times in a 48-36 dispatching of bottom-placed Randwick. After falling behind early, the Pirates dominated the rest of the first half and were wasteful in only asserting a 12pt lead at the break. But three tries in the third quarter built up a 43-15 advantage, and the only criticism you could level at the home side was that they clocked off early to allow the visitors an undeserved sniff of victory.

Having broken their duck for 2012 last week with victory over Parramatta, the Wicks had gone into the game on a high. But despite crossing the chalk five times themselves, it was a case of too little, too late, as their last quarter flurry did little more than add some respectability to the scoreline.

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It had all started so well for the Galloping Greens, patient phase play and good work from the forwards building a platform for no.8 Peter Samu to drive over from in close after only a couple of minutes. But the loss of flanker Dave Parsons to injury three minutes later seemed to unsettle the visitors, and they quickly fell behind after two lapses of concentration cost them dearly.

Firstly, Wests breakaway Tom Andrews toed ahead a loose scrum feed from Wicks halfback Nathan Sievert. The bouncing ball was initially fielded by visiting winger Tom Joseph, but when he lost control under pressure from a chasing Andrews, flyhalf Kiwi Kapene-Belcher was on hand to touch down.

Joseph’s woes continued when he then spilt a high ball giving Wests the put-in at a scrum just over halfway. And when the Pirates backs were given a licence to thrill, they pounced to streak through to within inches of the line, before centre Tavita Havea picked up off the floor to find the chalk.

Samu, Peter runs 300612D-0008.JPG

Flanker Pete Samu crossed early for Randwick – Photo: SPA Images

Randwick’s coaching team must have been tearing their hair out when Toby Browne’s kick from the restart failed to go 10 metres. And they must have thought the writing was on the wall when – after a period of kicking tennis from both sides after the ensuing scrum – the elusive Oleni Ngungutau broke through, strode down the sideline, and stepped his way inside to make it three tries in the opening quarter for a 17-7 lead.

The Wicks were huffing and puffing without making much headway, while the Pirates defence should also take some plaudits for holding them out. And the ultimate compliment was paid when skipper Browne took the 3pt option on the half hour, in order to get something on the scoreboard at least and build some kind of momentum.

But it didn’t work as the hosts also started to gain the upper hand at scrum time, their forward play repeatedly setting a platform for their exciting backs to chance their arm, and they cemented their dominance with try number four in the shadows of half-time.

Kapene-Belcher put a clever grubber into the corner, and when the retreating defence failed to clear their lines, scrumhalf Barton Jones was on hand to race clear for the bonus point try and a 22-10 lead – only Kapene-Belcher’s wayward radar sparing their opponent’s further punishment.

It was a case of more of the same straight after the restart, as the Wicks coughed up possession while on the attack, and the Pirates countered with devastating pace and precision. The impressive Ngungutau seared his way down the touchline before feeding Tito Mua on his inside, who in turn fed Shaun Treweek for the posts. Great awareness, enthusiastic support, and fine handling. And very exciting to watch.

Ngungutau, Oleni runs 300612D-0519.JPG

Oleni Ngungutau was a handful for the Pirates all afternoon – Photo: SPA Images

The talented Treweek crossed again in the 52nd minute, darting from his new position at fullback to claim a one-arm take at pace, dissect the Wicks line, and run around to the posts to give his kicker a simpler task.

There was a brief glimmer of hope for Randwick when Browne threw a dummy from five metres out and swerved his way over. But the door appeared to have been firmly shut on the hour when the Pirates’ forwards put on a bit of a show of their own near the line, hooker Paul Ngauamo stepping past a couple of tackles before prop Michael Ala’alatoa crossed in the corner.

Kapene-Belcher was finding his range and at 43-15, you wondered how many more the home side could plunder. But instead they took their foot off the pedal, allowing the Galloping Greens the time and space to finally make their passes stick.

A trio of tries from Ethan Ford, replacement Terrence Hepetema, and a grateful Joseph, made the last five minutes very interesting at 43-36. However, the Wicks’ flickering light was finally vanquished when they lost the ball in contact inside their own 22, and Havea pounced for his second try to end the contest.

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WEST HARBOUR 48 (Tevita Havea 2, Shaun Treweek 2, Kiwi Kapene-Belcher, Oleni Ngungutau, Barton Jones, Michael Ala’alatoa tries; Kiwi Kapene-Belcher 4 cons) defeated RANDWICK 36 (Peter Samu, Toby Browne, Ethan Ford, Terrence Hepetema, Tom Joseph tries; Toby Browne 4 cons, pen) at Concord Oval HT 22-10

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FINAL THOUGHTS…

West Harbour captain Tom Games:

“We wanted to play a really wide, expansive game in the first 20 because we’ve got some good, quick backs and we played well. I guess we’re just a bit disappointed to have let them back in, in that last twenty minutes. We’ve just got to keep our discipline and not throw it around too much.”

Randwick captain Toby Browne:

“We got a try first up and then simple errors cost us with three quick tries against us. It’s hard to come back here against West Harbour – especially when they get a roll on. At the end of the first half we just said ‘Let’s start again’ and we continued to go wide, and when we did, we went well. But those simple errors cost us and they’re pretty good on the counter. We never gave up, we gave it a good shot but it’s been the story of our year – our errors and our execution. But they’re a good team and they took their tries well.”

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West Harbour: 1. Michael Ala’alatoa; 2. Paul Ngauamo; 3. Vaughan Lomax; 4. Alfred Pinomi; 5. Tom Patterson; 6. Tom Games (c); 7. Tom Andrews; 8. Sione Tau; 9. Barton Jones; 10. Henry Seavula; 11. Macquire Tatola; 12. Nua Alone; 13. Tito Mua; 14. Oleni Ngungutau; 15. Shaun Treweek

Randwick: 1. Pato Noriega; 2. Nio Halangahu; 3. George Fifita; 4. Tom Weatherall; 5. Geoff Ingram; 6. Dave Parsons; 7. Tom Connor; 8. Pete Samu; 9. Nathan Sievert; 10. Toby Browne (c); 11. Apaola Tea; 12. Keith Masima; 13. Tim Wright; 14. Tom Joseph; 15. Ethan Ford

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First published by Rugby News on July 2nd, 2012

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