This is from a new eye in the field who shall remain anonymous for now. A great read I’m sure you’ll agree!! This was submitted a few days after the match but has taken a while to get published. Apologies for that.
In the first of two OBU vs HOBM games this weekend the Prem 2’s travelled out to Hutt Rec in search of a win & bonus point to secure a top 4 finish in the pursuit of Ed Chaney. Severely depleted in the front row particularly meant season debuts for Jason Gore from the Righteous Pack & John from the Teddy Bears. Also pulling on the boots in nearly 3 years was Physio Mark Thorne-Alexander.
OBU defended bravely smashing back the heavier HOBM forwards and forcing mistakes and turnovers. A break from the back of an opposing lineout by Josh Godsiff gave OBU a great field position deep in the HOBM half. A strong platform at the scrum created an overlap out wide and a quick draw & pass from Reece Plumtree enable a sharp finish by Pedro Valentine-Robertson out on the right-wing. Unfortunately, the conversion attempt by Reece P was unsuccessful. OBU continued their early success with some great breaks out wide through both backs & forwards although nothing came of these with some quality scramble defence from the eagles & a couple of goat mistakes.
About midway through the first half and having broken into the HOBM 22 the backs were afforded some quick ball and made the most of it by releasing Owen Wright on the left wing to step inside his opposing winger and score about 15m in from touch. Again the conversion was unsuccessful by Reece P meaning the Prem 2 ‘s led 10-0.
As is so often the case in many rugby matches the opposition were let back into the match following the restart. A regrettable charge down from an attempted box kick by Miller McQuoid led to a regather by HOBM inside the OBU 22 and scoring besides the posts with a simple kick the score was 10-7 and like that HOBM were back in with a sniff and picked up some momentum. They followed this up with a couple of penalties around the breakdown and decided to take a shot at goal from in front 25 metres out to tie the scores up at 10 all after 30 minutes.
With some wind in their sails, the larger HOBM pack tried to exert some dominance over the smaller but faster OBU forwards and were repelled with good line speed & consistent defence. Alas, the defence was unable to react to an overlap by HOBM who were able to spread the ball wide and their winger finished smartly in the corner. With the kick missing and the half time whistle close the half ended 15-10 to HOBM. A slight blow to the Prem 2’s chances of that top 4 finish and a rather disappointing scoreline in a half in which we controlled possession but failed to capitalise on our opportunities for more points.
Following a refocus from Head Coach Greg Mullany the boys came out with a clear mindset, refocused attitude hoping to take the game to the opposition. This was shown immediately by Owen W who soared high into the air to regather the kick-off and crash into the HOBM 22.
After a number of phases, the ball was recycled to the left wing where Josh Godsiff drew 2 defenders and popped the ball free in contact to release Owen Wright to score his second of the game. Again the kick was unsuccessful bringing the scores to 15 all a few minutes into the second half.
In a back & forth contest between two closely matched teams, no yard was being given or points being taken. It continues this way for the start of the second half but neither team is able to carve out any clear cut opportunities. That was until around 15 minutes into the second half Miller M made another outstanding break from the back of a scrum inside his own confused the opposition found space out on the right & was able to send Issac Wilson cantering in under the posts for what seemed to be a certain 7 points. Daniel Harkin took over the kicking duties for Reece who had been substituted in order to make the bench for the Premier game at Nairnville. From dead in front and 10 out the kick was partially charged by a man-mountain of a HOBM player fortunately there was enough on it to drop the right side of the crossbar & restore OBU’s lead 22-15.
Again HOBM came back into the game with some fresh & even heavier legs crashing into the goat’s defensive line. The effort & attitude on defence was at times nothing short of magnificent as wave after wave of attackers were stopped. Unluckily that was not to be the case for the rest of the second half and eventually the pressure became too much and their forwards crashed over next to the posts for another 7 points to tie the game up at 22 apiece.
In an almost mirror image of the HOBM 1st try OBU captain Matt Eathorne was able to successfully charge down a box kick off the restart and regather before charging his way to the corner. With the conversion unsuccessful OBU led 27-22 with about 12 minutes remaining. HOBM rolled a couple more subs intent on crashing their way over the top of the green & white defensive effort. Some quality tackles and carries from Dom Trewavas & Fale Faingata’a led the way alongside Captain Eathorne putting his body on the line leading from the front.
A fantastic turnover from replacement halfback Tamatea Marsh allowed the Prem 2’s to clear their lines in the final few minutes. Sustained pressure on defence led to a midfield scrum which the backs looked to capitalise on. However, fortune was not shining as brightly as the winter sun as the ball was spilled allowing HOBM one more chance to steal a win. In what turned out to be a precursor for the Prems game & snatching last-minute tries from nowhere the HOBM team managed to get over the gain-line against a fatigued and tired OBU side and found some space to allow their winger to score to level the scores at 27-27 with the kick to come. In this situation, the kicker was unable to ice the game and take the win. A draw was an unfortunate result in the teams valiant attempts to reach the top 4 but meant they finished 5th and now face Upper Hutt in a QF playoff game next weekend.