EAST REGAIN SHIELD FROM FAST-FINISHING WEST
East regained crosstown supremacy with a 24-22 victory over West at Canterbury Agricultural Park on Saturday.
West claimed a historic golden point win in the reinstated rep fixture last year – East had won all four previous encounters from 2008-11. But East, consisting of players from Linwood, Northern, Celebration and Aranui, powered out to a 14-point lead midway through the second half and hung on for 2018 bragging rights after a late flourish from West, who represent Hornby, Papanui, Riccarton and Halswell.
Wet weather earlier in the day made for a slippery surface and difficult ball-handling conditions, with rugged defence dominating a scrappy first half.
East winger Chris Nijssen dotted down for a clever try out wide from a kick to open the scoring and the Steve Fenika-coached side went 10-0 ahead when centre Will Yeow scored under the posts.
But the somewhat unlucky sin-binning of East winger Nick Wain provided West with a rare opportunity late in the first half. West fullback Tauvale Tauvale put his side on the board with a try just before the break.
Both sides found greater continuity in attack in the second stanza, with Yeow crossing twice more to complete a hat-trick either side of Tauvale’s second try in a frantic opening to the half.
East looked to have put the result beyond doubt when Linwood prop Jiordan Fidow-Kele slammed the ball down next to the uprights, extending the lead to 24-10.
But Jed Lawrie’s West combination came home with a wet sail, front-rower Roger Tafua barging over from close range before speedster Nick Evans snaffled an intercept and out-paced the East cover defence on a thrilling 80-metre run to the try-line.
The deficit cut to just two points, West had one last set to pull the game out of the fire from the kick-off but East’s defence held firm in dying seconds.