Wellsford Rugby and Mahurangi Rugby Club premier teams met on the field in Centennial Park for their annual ‘not-so-friendly’ preseason match recently.
Mahurangi’s Premiers had a new energy compared to previous years, with a younger side bolstered by last year’s 1st XIVs and Colts.
They were met by Wellsford’s experienced representative players and ex-Rodney College students.
Despite the challenging competition, Mahu’s young guns’ enthusiasm was palpable – most strikingly when captain Shane Clark had to ask them several times to hold back on the skirmishing.
The first half was defined by Wellsford scoring five tries in quick succession.
All of them were successfully converted with goal kicks from Neil Warnock, for a score of 35 nil at half time.
As the sun set and the pitch descended into darkness, Mahurangi’s heads cooled and they found a new focus.
The teams appeared locked in a stalemate as Mahurangi held off Wellsford’s pushes at the 10-metre line.
Mahurangi steeled their nerve even as a controversial ‘no arms tackle’ penalty call, that saw the crowd howling, resulted in a yellow card.
Then Mahurangi’s Luke Hitchcock seized a momentary opportunity, snatching the ball and making a run down the left side of the field, breaking through an unready defence.
It was the only try scored in the second half and was successfully converted.
The final score of 35-7 was firmly in favour of Wellsford but both teams came out with a performance they could be satisfied with, ahead of a postponed season.