AT A GLANCE
NPOB 18 Inglewood 0
Clifton 25 Southern 22
Tukapa 31 Spotswood Utd 5
Coastal 21 Stratford 17
Anyone turning up at Vogeltown Park at halftime for New Plymouth Old Boys’ match against Inglewood would not have had to turn around to look at the scoreboard.
On what has become extremely rare in modern rugby, not a point was scored in the second half, although it was not through a lack of trying.
Behind 18-0 at the break, Inglewood huffed and puffed but could not blow over the Old Boys line.
There was nothing subtle in their attack, they simply tried to barge their way over from close in, believing that to be the best option rather than spin it wide.
It made for some rather turgent viewing and also raised a question: when are players going to try and beat their opposition with more variety than simply trying to run over the top of them?
Hopefully for followers of the premier club competition it will be sooner rather than later.
The first half was at least brighter, especially if you were an Old Boys fan, as they dominated the opening 40 minutes, scoring tries to Codey Rei and Willie McBride.
Inglewood regrouped at the break, though, coming back with plenty of determination, albeit in an one dimensional manner.
Having conceded more than 50 points the week prior to Spotswood United, Inglewood’s defence was a lot more stout against Old Boys, helped considerably by the return of new Chiefs squad member Berny Hall.
He had a good battle with opposite Lachlan Boshier, with both coming out of the match with plenty of highlights attributed to them.
Boshier did some excellent covering work while Hall was punishing in his defence.
There were also some bright moments for several other players, including Old Boys first five-eighth Codey Rei, whose kicking game looks improved in 2015.
Unfortunately the offside line was far too thin for both sides to get any constant momentum, especially in the midfield where strong defence created plenty of mistakes.
“Inglewood certainly brought it in the second half,” Old Boys captain Liam McBride said.
“We wound up on our d-line for most of that 40 and to see the boys show plenty of ticker was pretty fantastic.”
McBride acknowledged Inglewood’s line speed had caused them problems.
“You know that is always going to be the case with Inglewood because they always get up when they play us. We didn’t get up for them [in the first round] so it was finally good to get one especially after last year [semifinal loss] as well.”
Elsewhere, Tukapa moved to outright second after they thrashed Spotswood United 31-5 at Sanders Park.
Although Spotswood United were missing a number of key men, they never really fronted and were virtually out of the game at the break as they trailed 18-0.
Tukapa scored early in the second half, their advantage being enough for coaches Matt Stone and Laurence Corlett to drag some of their more experienced men to rest up ahead of next week’s clash with Old Boys.
Henry Miles scored two of Tukapa’s five tries as they moved to within five points of Old Boys on the table.
Tukapa centre Pomare Samupo was back to some good form after his long lay-off with a knee injury while No 8 Adrian Wyrill continues to be a model of consistency.
Another to shine in the Tukapa ranks was young loose forward Du’Plessis Kirifi who, along with Wyrill, helped them get an edge at the breakdown.
Spotswood United’s management team were disappointed with the attitude of their players after they had focussed on the fact they would need to work harder without players like Toa Halafihi and Iopu Iopu-Aso.
One player who did come into the side and perform well was openside flanker Tristian Lahmert while fullback Brayden Byrne also played well.
Clifton kept their hopes of a semifinal spot alive with a hard fought 25-22 win over Southern at Tikorangi.
The scores were locked together at 22-22 late in the match before Matiu Welch kicked the winning penalty.
Clifton coach Ian Snook thought they should have won more comfortably after being held up three times over the line.
They also got into good attacking positions only for their lineout to malfunction.
Clifton captain and No 8 Chris Black has his strongest performance of the season, scoring two tries while Andrew Tonks celebrated the arrival of a new child with a strong game.
Southern coach Jason Skipper said lock Jon Smyth was a stand-out for them, as was midfielder Dane picot van Heuven and centre Jackson Ormond.
The 2013 champions now have no realistic chance of qualifying for the semifinals.
Coastal also kicked a late penalty in their 21-17 win over Stratford at Victoria Park.
Both sides had periods of domination in an even contest. The win lifted Coastal into fourth spot on the table.
Coastal dominated the opening 20 minutes before Stratford came back and had the better of the second part of the first half.
Things remained pretty even in the second half and Stratford had the opportunity to take the lead late in the match when they were down 18-17 but missed a shot at goal.
Daniel Furness had a strong game at blindside flanker for Stratford, as did lock Matthew Kissick.
Former Coastal captain Nick Lawn answered the call to come into the squad as cover and played well off the bench along with loose forward Callum Reid and fullback Thys van der Poel.
Coastal now look to be in a real scrap with Inglewood for fourth spot, with Clifton still a possible threat if they can keep their best players fit.