Friday night football made a return to the Tasman rugby calendar for the first time since 2016 and thankfully unlike 2016 there weren’t any serious injuries. It was a crisp clear night at Riwaka with some great footy on display for the very supportive crowd.
The Motueka Tigers opened the scoring from their first opportunity with the ball when Esau Togitele made a breakaway from a Victory kick downfield. Elia Miatiakibau ensured that the Tigers were keeping up with the clock to give the Tigers a 12-0 lead after 10 minutes. In a dominant first half to the Tigers they added further tries by Esau Faamanatu, Letaulau Talatonu and Denym Antonievic with the last two tries coming from their left side attack. Mitchell Duncan-Jonas added one conversion to make the half time score 26-0 to the Tigers.
The second half started evenly posed as Victory started to get themselves back into the game. After a long period of attack on the Tigers line Victory front rower Taru Kingi crashed over from short range to get them off the mark. Deseanare Lakakatu got Victory’s second try when he ran into a gap created from his halves to bring the score to 26-10.
Jason Kaisia scored from close range and Jeff McDonald slotted the conversion for Victory to make the score 26-16, and if it wasn’t already, it was officially game on. Hayden Smith for the Tigers scored what would be the only points scored from the orchard end when successfully got a penalty goal from close range for Victory being inside the 10.
Taru Kingi for Victory added a second try which after the conversion narrowed the game back down to 6 points which made for a tense and exciting finish. Jeff McDonald got a try of his own to tie the game up. On the last play of the game Victory had a chance to win the game with a penalty goal which was unsuccessful. Motueka tried to go the length of the field to win the game, but only got as far as their 20 metre line.
So there you have it, both sides share the chocolates and in the three games played between these two sides during the season, it has finished as one win each and a draw.
Finally thank you to all the volunteers who make the game possible namely the match officials, the match manager and the people who setup the field and pack it down and clean the changing rooms after the game. There is a lot that happens off the field and we thank all our volunteers who support all our teams.
Next week Victory Phoenix travel over to Blenheim to play Wairau Taniwha at Oliver Park, Blenheim. Kick off at 2:30pm