Div 1 stay top of the log

New Brighton were made to work hard in their sixth round clash against Shirley in the Hawkins Cup Division One competition on Saturday at Rawhiti Domain. The host’s won 27-17 to remain in second position on the ladder, a point behind University.

Aaron McCoy, Nikos Cummings-Toone and Zack Trusler all scored for the home team while Junior Taia, Keita Sekimoto and Brandon Fanolua scored for the visitors. Mark Burton was the difference kicking two penalties and three conversions compared to his opposite Nathan Smith who only landed a single conversion.

Shirley featured Crusader Sean Wainui in their backline and it seemed to add some spark for the visitors who were beaten 48 nil the previous weekend by Christchurch. New Brighton changed their starting front row for the first time this season with Oliver Jager, Zeke Dyson and Cummings-Toone coming in for Carisbrook Toomal’atai, Marcel Cummings-Toone and Rawiri Karena. Tyson Keats also returned to the club being named on the bench as the replacement halfback.

It was a tough first half for both sides and just before the half hour mark Siua Maile was sinbinned for Shirley. New Brighton took advantage with Burton kicking a penalty two minutes later to give the home team the lead. A minute before Maile was due back from the sinbin the seasiders had their opening try when McCoy took a quick tap from a scrum penalty five metres out from the Shirley line and scored just to the left of the posts. Burton converted to extend the lead to ten points. Shirley answered back right on the stroke of half time when a pass was intercepted by Taia who ran 20 metres to score untouched under the posts. Brighton extended their lead early in the second spell after a patient build up inside the Shirley 22 lasting ten phases which ended with Cummings-Toone scoring next to the right post which was converted again by Burton to regain the ten point advantage. Midway through the half Brighton had looked to have sewn up the points when Trusler scored his try on the right wing finishing off a backline movement that started from a scrum on the left. Burton’s conversion gave the hosts a 17 point lead with 20 minutes to play. New Brighton then found themselves down to 14 for the last quarter hour of the match when Marcel Cummings-Toone was red carded for abuse towards an official. Shirley scored almost immediately when Sekimoto had a try in the corner. The conversion attempt from the side-line by Smith hit the uprights and the difference remained at 12 points. New Brighton managed to gain some territory and earned themselves a penalty out in front of the posts with six minutes to play. They opted to take a shot at goal and extend the lead beyond two converted tries rather than attempt to go for a bonus point try which proved to be a good decision after Shirley answered straight back with a long range try to Fanolua. It was however Brighton who controlled the play in the last few minutes and were unlucky not to score again right on the full time whistle when they were held up over the line for the third time during the game.

After the match, referee Gareth Reed said there was “Zero Tolerance” to abuse at an official in regards to the sending off but also said to his credit Cummings-Toone had apologised to the officials for his outburst. The top four sides meet each other next weekend with New Brighton doing battle with the forth placed Christchurch and Lincoln University to host University at Lincoln.

NEW BRIGHTON 27 (McCoy, N Cummings-Toone, Trusler Tries, Burton 3 Cons 2 Pens) SHIRLEY 17 (Taia, Sekimoto, Fanolua Tries, Smith Con) 

Glenn Matthews