Conditions were grim and the rugby was slow as Old Boys University tasted their first loss of their Jubilee Cup campaign, going down 18-14 to Pōneke at Kilbirnie Park.
It took almost half an hour for the first points of the game to be scored as both sides slogged it out in the middle of the field, often making handling errors in the tricky conditions. Those opening points came through the boot of Pōneke first five-eighth Pakai Turia, nailing a penalty goal after hitting the uprights earlier on in proceedings.
Just five minutes afterwards, Finnbarr Kerr-Newell was shown a yellow card for dangerous play but the tight play remained as OBU held the hosts out even with a one-man disadvantage to see the score remain at 3-0 to the hosts heading into the second half.
The Billy Goats took their first lead of the game just three minutes into the second half when Izzy Foai rumbled his way over from close range, though the Pōneke response was almost immediate, taking advantage of a quick-tap penalty to score and go up 8-7.
The forward-dominated footy continued long into the second half and OBU were the beneficiaries in the 64th minute as the OBU pack mauled their way over the chalk from a lineout. Dale Sabbagh nailed a superb sideline conversion to make it 14-8.
Again, though, the hosts were swift in their response as Kurt Sickler scored untouched in the left corner to make it a one-point OBU lead with 11 minutes left on the clock.
Greg Foe made a break up the left with five minutes to spare to get Pōneke into Goats’ territory and the home side were patient in their attack, eventually scoring on the right wing through Johannus Taankink.
That try gave Pōneke an 18-14 lead and, despite OBU stealing possession at the death of the game, going 60 metres was too much to ask in the heavy rain as the home side held on for the win.
Pōneke are now back in semi-finals contention, while OBU sit in third spot on the ladder.
Next week’s match for the Billy Goats is at Lyndhurst Park versus Tawa at 2.45pm.