FLASHBACK FRIDAY: EAST V WEST 2011
Ahead of the East v West representative fixture tomorrow afternoon at Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub, Flashback Friday revisits the last time the match was played prior to its return to the Canterbury Rugby League schedule in 2017.
East recovered from a 14-point halftime deficit to run out 26-18 winners in the 2011 clash, keeping their perfect record against West intact.
MATT RICHENS – The Press – June 6, 2011
No-one wants to be the captain of a team that loses its stranglehold on a two-team competition, especially when you’re 14-0 up at halftime.
That’s why there was relief in East captain Kyle Leka’s voice after his side beat West 26-18 in Canterbury rugby league’s annual East-West “state of origin” match on Saturday at Rugby League Park.
Leka, undefeated in three East-West games, and his side dominated the first half against a West side that looked short of playing time together. That was because their brief run around before the game was the first time they’d got together.
They struggled for possession and territory and their lack of field position meant they were unable to force repeat sets or apply pressure on attack.
East, on the other hand, did exactly that. They kicked well and after the big men had done the hard work, the halves were able to dictate.
And when they did get into West quarter, they scored.
A clever run from standoff Teariki Tangiiti set up scrumhalf Josh Reuben for the opening try in the 17th minute.
East then pounced when West wing Josh Everett dropped the ball on his goal line after his team-mates had offered him little protection from a crossfield kick leaving Philip Moevao to score in the corner.
Reuben then turned provider as centre Daniel Latu scored East’s third unanswered try before halftime.
“It was a good first half,” Leka said. “We did what we wanted to; held on to the ball and kept them down their end, but we knew they’d come out firing in the second half.”
West looked a different side after the break with imagination on attack and power on defence. They scored immediately, through powerful Tonga Mounga.
On the back of a Tama Walker 40-20, East scored again as wing Daniel Moevao touched down the first of his double. At that stage,with less than 15 minutes left the game looked all but over for West, but the last quarter of an hour was action-packed.
Hard working West prop Vincent Brown crossed with eight minutes to go then fellow front rower Jaye Pukepuke did the same less than two minutes later after East were penalised for being in front of the kicker at the kickoff.
Simon Mounga landed his third conversion to square the match at 18-all, but that’s where West’s momentum ran out.
Moevao scored his second in the corner, a brilliant finish after three players couldn’t put him out, then Paul Sauni dotted down at the final whistle.
“Yeah, there was a bit of relief, but we knew we just had to be patient, that was a big word for us today,” Leka said.
He praised the work of “everyone across the field” but was particularly pleased with Moevao’s strength and balance to score two tries in the corner in traffic.