Rugby: Whangamata comeback clinches semis spot

Sean O’Grady in action in an earlier match. Photo / Jason Bartley

In the final round of the Thames Valley Senior A club rugby Whangamata traveled to play Mercury Bay in Whitianga.

They came away with a gutsy 22-17 win over the second-placed Bay.

Whangamata continued their winning streak with this fifth consecutive win.

Mercury Bay are always tough to beat on their home ground with vociferous and fanatical supporters.

After only eight minutes Bay took the ball up the middle and scored their first try which was converted – Mercury Bay 7, Whangamata 0.

The Red n Whites were starved of possession and needed to ride out the Bay dominance. Fearless and effective tackling by the mobile prop Chris Gee and quick covering flanker Charles Clarke limited the Bay attacks.

Whangamata captain Zac Clarke burst through a lineout on a 30m dash into the Bay half. No score resulted from this raid and Bay camped again in the Whangamata half. From a well-drilled move from a lineout Bay rumbled the ball over the line for their second converted try. Mercury Bay 14, Whangamata 0.

Immediately the Red n Whites sliced ​​through the Bay backline as winger Eli Byles burst through a gap to send Telly Hemopo in for a classy try.

Sean O’Grady converted for halftime, Mercury Bay 14, Whangamata 7. After their hard work in the first half, the Red n Whites began to secure more possession and territory. Jason Hayward and Jacob Chaplin both picked up the pace and helped turned the Bay side on to the back foot.

Whangamata’s second try closed the score line to 14-12. The action-packed last 20 minutes saw Whangamata get ahead for the first time 15-14 with an O’Grady penalty. Bay responded with a penalty to lead 17-15. But the Whangamata momentum continued as the ever present Zac Clarke scored a try after a mighty forward move.

The cool O’Grady swept over the important conversion for the final score Whangamata 22, Mercury Bay 17.

In a final attack Bay forced a lineout on the Whangamata try line only to close the game with a disappointing crooked line out.

A fabulous victory for Whangamata who locked in fourth place for the McClinchy Cup competition. Thames finish top with 36 points and take the Tom Jordan Cup. Mercury Bay stay in second place with 31 points. Te Aroha Cobras third with 29 points and the fast-improving Whangamata with 25 points.

Semifinal draw for this weekend, home team named first Thames v Whangamata and Mercury Bay v Te Aroha Cobras.

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