U85s finish rebuilding season on right track

U85s finish rebuilding season on right track

Hosts Counties Manukau lost 20-10 to Waikato in the third v fourth playoff in the U85kg tournament at Patumahoe on Saturday.

It was a classic game of two halves with the home side making use of the wind in the first half to take a 10-3 halftime lead. Waikato made the most of a stronger second half wind to keep the Counties Manukau boys pinned in their own half, scoring two tries in the process.

Coach Scott Hooper was happy with the progress his side has made this season.

“It has been a couple of years since the representative programme has been able to run for Counties Manukau 85’s,” Hooper said. “In that time, it has seen some older players finish up and allow new players to emerge and put their hand up for playing in the red, white and black hoops.

“Eighty percent of the current team had never played at representative level, so this has been a season of restarting and aiming towards the future. It would seem the future will be bright for the team as they put out some great performances, losing narrowly to North Harbour 32-24, nearly pipping eventual winners of the competition Auckland 31-28 then beating Waikato 20-19 in their final round, just missing out on second spot and a place in the main final.

“Under 85kg rugby continues to grow each year in Counties Manukau, with future talk of an NZ 85’s team on the horizon it will only help grow both the grade and club rugby as a whole.

“This year even saw the naming of a NZ Barbarians XV, which featured Counties Manukau representative players Ridgley Paxton and Sunia Vosikata.”

Auckland proved too strong for North Harbour 28-0 in the final, at the same venue.

The Counties Manukau Under 16 Boys team flew the flag for local representative sides over the weekend as they collected a 15-5 win over Northland at South Park in Papakura.

The Counties Manukau Under 18 Boys played out a thrilling 8-8 draw with North Harbour at North Harbour Stadium.

Weather conditions playing a big factor in the result, both teams having to battle off in the rain and windy conditions. Counties Manukau struck first with a team work try scored by lock Daniel Lagalaga Slade then followed by an important penalty kick from halfback David Kama to walk into the halftime break with an 8-0 lead.

North Harbour worked their way back into the game with a penalty kick and try late in second half to draw up the final score. 

Some standout performances by stand in first-five Frank Tiumalu-Pritchard, who steered the ship well. Openside flanker Thomas Setitaia wore the captain's arm band and led the pack well around the park, making crucial tackles and turnovers. Tighthead prop Wilson Silipa brought great aggression to his game at scrum time and around the field.

The Under 18 boys have one last battle to come this season on Saturday v Northland U18, 2pm kickoff hosted by Pukekohe High School.

The Counties Manukau U18 Girls fell to North Harbour 20-14 in their match at North Harbour Stadium.