17 October 2020
It was a hard day at the office for Canterbury as Akarana ran rampant in a 68-4 victory.
Akarana back-rower Patrick Sipley showed his experience right from the outset stepping through the Canterbury defense to draw first blood posting a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
Excellent defense from Akarana and an intercept from Francis Leger put a stop to Canterbury’s many attempts at a four-pointer with their effort simply not translating into points.
The class of Setu Tu had Cole Waaka as the recipient of some outstanding effort on the right wing from Akarana with a simple conversion from Leger sealing the deal on another six points for their side, the score 12-0.
First try-scorer of the day, Sipley’s long stride again looked dangerous but it was Sam Fa’apito on the back end of some smart play from Akarana, scoring to the left of the posts with captain Leger putting his third successful conversion over. Akarana capping off a brilliant first half with a 18-0 lead heading into halftime.
Opening the second half was Chris Smith, the finisher of Preston Riki and Cole Waaka’s right wing run done the sideline. The conversion followed the fashion of Leger’s 100% strike rate too, hitting both posts and the cross bar before making its way over.
Akarana’s fifth try was scored by former Warriors player, Leivaha Pulu adding to his team’s growing try tally and Leger converting to increase Akarana’s lead to 30-0.
Fa’atili showed no lack of fighting power just coming short of an intercept that could have sent Canterbury down the paddock but instead, straight off the scrum, it was Setu Tu coming up with four more points for Akarana.
Canterbury’s defense looked tired as Akarana battered them with attacking prowess and try after try, Akarana cracking 40 points after Leivaha Pulu’s second try of the match and moments later, a 50-point lead ensued after Fa’apito also banked his second. Captain Leger’s boot only added insult to injury kicking nine from eleven kicks at goal.
Just as things were looking grim for the Cantabrians, the energetic Clayton Waikato came out of dummy half to score his side’s first four points in the 56th minute, momentum the South Islanders would have hoped to build on.
However, the visitors continued to find themselves back pedaling and the final 15 minutes proved to be the nail in their coffin.
Patrick Sipley ended the match in the same way he started with a hat-trick to send Canterbury packing, Akarana recording an impressive 68-4 victory.
The Akarana Falcons will play Counties Manukau’s Stingrays in the final of the Men’s Premiership on October 31st at Trusts Stadium Auckland.
10 October 2020
A hard-hitting second round saw reigning champions Akarana fail to win it at the death, drawing 12-12 with a determined Counties-Manukau side.
A scrappy affair, both teams started shakily unable to control the ball as the two sides got themselves into the game.
Unable to convert field possession into points, Counties continued to win the grind with Patrick Sipley unable to control the ball in his own 20. Again the Akarana defence standing firm.
Akarana Centre Francis Leger broke the deadlock 10 minutes in after Mathew Tuitama hung in a tackle to offload to his captain for the first points of the afternoon. 6-0 to Akarana after Leger converts.
It continued to be an error-ridden grind as both teams gave the ball away. A tough contest around the ruck saw Counties roll down the field; however they were unable to put pressure into points.
Akarana off an ensuing scrum in on their own 10-metre line marched down the field and ended their set in a sharp set play that saw winger Sam Fa’apito stroll over. Leger again converted to make it 12-0 after swinging momentum back into Akarana’s favour.
Again Counties continued to roll on and gain good field position and finally got off the mark when substitute Donny Tuivai-Lopa crashed over for their first of the evening. Drew Radich slotted his over from right in front to bridge the gap, 12-6 going into the break.
Points went begging as Ray Tuimalo-Vaega with only grass in front of him was unable to control the ball, 10 minutes into the second half action.
The Falcons gave away another penalty on their own line and off that, front row Connor Taurua-Purcell stormed over the line to reduce the deficit. Drew Radich makes it even 12-12 after 52 minutes.
Akarana’s penalties kept Counties in the game and on the back foot. Then a line break from Sam Fa’apito in his own 20 reduced pressure on Akarana and earns the Falcons a penalty. However, the first tackle saw them lose possession.
A grind-it-out second half had both teams locked in the battle and with 25 minutes left to go the scores remained 12-12. Going into the final 10 both sides had opportunities on the opposition goal lines but defence remained firm.
A crucial Counties mistake with three minutes to go gave Akarana a chance to win but stout defence by the Stingrays kept the Falcons at bay. Off the ensuing set, a frantic scramble lead to Akarana breaking through taking out the referee in the process, Sipley only inches from the line as the full-time hooter sounded ending 12-12.
Counties keep Akarana at bay drawing with the reigning champions. Akarana will face Canterbury next Saturday while the Stingrays come up against Waikato at FMG Stadium.
All games will be televised live on Sky Sport.