Central and West Auckland teams claim spots in Super Club Rugby U21s grand final
October 23, 2020
By Elijah Fa'afiu - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Central Kings and West Rangers will meet in the inaugural Super Club Rugby Under 21s grand final after a chaotic final round of regular season games.
The Kings poured on five tries to defeat the Southside Rising 32-23 and hand the South Auckland side their first loss of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Rangers were made to work hard for their place in the final, beating the East Toa Moana 26-14.
In the first game of the afternoon, a back-and-forth contest between Central and Southside turned into a runaway victory for the Kings.
In a tight first half, it was a try to Central winger Vili Cerei that gave the Kings the edge 13-8 at halftime.
The Central side came out firing in the second half, scoring three tries which stretched their lead out to 32-11.
However, their discipline began to waver late in the second period, leading to two yellow cards for the Kings and a penalty try awarded to the Rising.
Another consolation try wasn’t enough to complete the comeback and gain a crucial bonus point in defeat for Southside, meaning their spot in the final was pending on the outcome of the next game.
Central Kings co-captain Reece Suesue says the team was determined to win.
“We went through training, learned what we needed to do and the boys just bought into the game plan.”
That game plan involved using the field to their advantage in an effort to tire out a strong Southside team.
“We knew that Southside was a bigger team. They have more strength and power but if we could try and make them move around the park, we’d use that to our advantage so we were grateful that we were able to do that and expose them in some areas,” says Suesue.
Central number eight Kitione Leitufia was named the man of the match and he says the chemistry within the team has improved over the past few weeks.
“Playing together as a team, that was kind of hard for us in the beginning but we managed to pull through.”
Southside Rising captain Marcel Fa’aofo says although the team played hard, Central was the better team on the day.
“I think we’re still really physical, I feel like we just need to work on playing together. I think we got caught out a lot, they stole a lot of our ball and we just have to clean up the little things.”
The 32-23 result booked Central a place in the grand final and it meant both captains would be playing close attention to the next game.
“I don’t know what the maths are, but I think we might have done enough to sneak on top of South and that’s all we needed to do so hopefully we just see who we get to play, either West or South,” Reece Suesue says.
“Hopefully East can tip up these guys or come close so we have a chance for the final,” says Fa’aofo.
The West Rangers needed to win with a bonus point (scoring four tries or more) in order to secure a spot in the final.
However, it didn’t come easy as the East Toa Moana scored the first try of the contest.
Two tries to West Rangers first-five Junior Matautia had the West Auckland side leading 14-8 at the break.
In the second half, two penalties from East winger Holyfield Kapsin levelled the scores at 14 apiece.
But the Rangers scored soon after and were on the hunt for the fourth try that would put them in the final.
The West Auckland team managed to claim their fourth try, taking the bonus point and eventually the win.
In his first start of the tournament, man of the match Junior Matautia says he wanted to take the opportunity with both hands and was proud of his team’s effort to get over the line.
“It was just all heart. The boys were fatigued, but they held it out for the whole 80, just with pure heart.”
Matautia says playing for a spot in the final wasn’t on his mind during the game.
“I just wanted to focus on the game itself. The coaches told us before that making the finals wasn’t the goal for today, it was sticking to our structure, our game plan and just executing it on the field.”
Next week’s Super Club Rugby finals day will see a 3rd/4th playoff game between the Southside Rising and East Toa Moana and the grand final between the Central Kings and West Rangers for the Sir Michael Jones Trophy.