The unpredictability of this season’s Hamersley Cup senior rugby competition matched the changing weather that blew through during Saturday’s games where Mackenzie held off the Waimate challenge 14-8 at home.
Mackenzie again showed they have one of the better structured sides in the senior competition as they held off a determined Waimate challenge at Strathconan Park to retain the PGG Wrightson Challenge Shield.
In a game where the weather influenced game plans, the players endured bright sunshine, strong wind gusts, driving rain, darkness and sun on a wet slippery ground all in the space of 90 minutes.
Waimate began strongly and after a good period inside Mackenzie territory, a solid ruck followed by three wide passes saw winger Jade Halkett score in the corner after 12 minutes. Five minutes later an infringement by Mackenzie saw Waimate stretch their lead to 8-nil after a penalty.
About this time, while the wind remained the sky went dark and Mackenzie made their way back up the field. A good kick from first-five Will Hands into the corner allowed his forwards to apply plenty of pressure which was eventually rewarded with a try wide out to hooker Johnny Andrews in the 25th minute.
Momentum changed regularly as each forward pack had times in charge, or at the right end of the field. Waimate missed a penalty that could have extended their lead and then Hands stepped up and kicked a great penalty in the conditions to tie the scores up in the 30th minute. He had two more chances before halftime and nailed both to put Mackenzie 14-8 ahead at the break.
Waimate’s gameplan of getting the ball wide quickly was now hampered by the wet underfoot conditions and as the game began to be played closer to the ruck, Mackenzie’s senior players led the way, while Waimate often spoiled their attacking opportunities by dropping the last pass or infringing at the ruck.
Lock Andrew Scarlet had a big game for Mackenzie as did No 8 Stu Cartwright and BJ Oliver at openside flanker who were both foraging or spoiling at every breakdown. George Folau was busy on the wing and Faaitu Tuamoheloa seemed to have time aplenty as he organised the backs.
For Waimate Jamie Engelbrecht was busy in the lineouts and at the tackle count and Irish prop Peter Reilly scrummaged well.
Stephen Macauley was the pick of the backs, and except for an ankle tap Jared Mathews may have been the hero for Waimate, just missing scoring under the posts near fulltime.
There was no scoring in the second half, but Mackenzie looked more controlled in the wet conditions that prevailed and were deserved winners at the end of the day, showing more composure and making fewer errors at important times.
As well as enjoying the best part of the day for playing rugby, the Senior B side achieved the best result, soundly defeating Mackenzie by 28 – 5