By Trey Tupu-South – photos Ollie Jones
Week after week, Westlake’s Inisi brothers have managed to bring their team’s efforts to fruition. The sixth round of 1st XV competition saw a similar fate on Saturday, as the two sealed Westlake’s 24-12 victory over Massey by scoring one try each late into the second half. Despite the dismay of the home crowd, nobody could walk away disappointed with the picture-perfect setting of the game, or the nail-biting and fast-paced play which ensued.
Truly a thrilling match, made up of two halves, which Massey dominated the first. Their bigger and stronger players commanded control from the outset, making the bigger impacts on both offence and defence. The Massey No. 7 and captain Nathan Vaatausili set the game in motion with a try within the first ten minutes of the game, shocking ‘Lake supporters’ and forcing them to brace for a potential first loss of the season.
Although as the game continued, Westlake exhibited a high level of vigilance in the face of Massey’s merciless pressure, holding the team to just one more try, scored by No. 10 Nikau Drage, who stepped and swerved his way through the Westlake defence to score and extend his team’s tally to 12-0. Nikau Drage also demonstrated great ability during a kicking exchange with his opposition No.10 Cooper Green, which lasted the first half, with each player performing banana kicks, grubbers, punts, and exhibiting an amazing competence with their kicking. It was Cooper’s kicking which saw Massey pinned within their 22 towards the end of the first half. Massey’s half-back Miracle Naititi attempted to punt his team’s way out of this unfamiliar territory, but his box-kick off from the ruck was well anticipated by Westlake’s No. 6 Lotu Inisi, who swatted the ball down for his brother No.12 Fine Inisi to recover and score the team’s first try of the game. Despite Massey’s dominant performance during the first half, this try and a successful conversion, saw Westlake behind by just 12-7 heading into the second half.
As the second half commenced the crowd observed a turn of events. A rejuvenated Westlake team entered the pitch with every player radiating a new sense of strength. Lock Blake Houghton began Westlake’s second half assault by securing their team’s kick off to place Westlake on the front foot. Deciding not to kick for goal when given penalty opportunities, their persistence eventually paid off as Blake Houghton pushed over in the left hand corner, equalizing the score. Blake remained pivotal throughout the second half at the break down area, as well as on the run, demonstrating great agility for a lock. Despite Massey’s backline making some punishing tackles, they were unable to remain tight against the running strength of the Inisi brothers who eventually scored one try each and secured Westlake’s 24-12 victory late in the second half.
A great day for our First XV, coming from behind to beat a robust Massey side (24-12). Highlights from the 1st XV match against Massey High School can be seen in the link below, courtesy of Sky Sport NZ: https://www.facebook.com/skysportnz/videos/1036605273075804/
This Saturday Westlake host Takapuna, Birkenhead play Whangarei, Rangitoto have Massey at home and Orewa will face Rosmini on their home track.
1A Points: Westlake 28, Rosmini 23, Massey 20, Whangarei 13, Rangitoto 13, Takapuna 8, Orewa 8
|Westlake Boys||1st XV||Massey High School 1st XV||W||24-12|
|Westlake Boys||2nd XV||BYE|
|Westlake Boys||3rd XV||BYE|
|Westlake Boys||4th XV||BYE|
|Westlake Boys||6B||Rosmini College 6B||W||59-5|
|Westlake Boys||7 Green||BYE|
|Westlake Boys||7 Red||BYE|