By Deano Allnutt at Northcote RFC
Cyclone Lusi started to play havoc in the build-up to the Bryan Craies Cup and just before kickoff.
I’m not sure how hard the referees blew their whistles but she headed south. The conditions were pretty good, a soft track, and little tail wind towards Birkenhead Avenue, but otherwise not bad. There were very few spectators but there seemed to be more in the RSA looking out over the field.
The three teams weighed in with Northcote and Takapuna right on the tournament weight while the College Rifles Bombers had only one of their players over 87kg.
The Auckland champions, the College Rifles Raiders, didn’t even contest the scales, with more than half of the team over the tournament weight. The Raiders were good sports, though, and decided they still wanted to play in the Bryan Craies Cup but would default their points and use the matches as extra training and get their weight down.
Northcote won by default over the Raiders, but the score was 16-12 on the field. Standout players from Northcote were Aaron Kiwara, Robert Gore, Jesse Muir and Stephen Kerr. For the Raiders, Andrew Little, Bobbie Taivoni, Bobby Lloyd and Cameron Andrew.
The Rifles Bombers beat Takapuna 12-6. This was a top game to watch. Both teams had been doing their homework in the fitness department and showed great running rugby in 40 minutes. The halftime score was 6-5 to Takapuna with Taka having the upper hand to put game out to a three-point lead. A penalty goal hit the post, and a counterattack from the Rifles Bombers with the ball going through all 15 players’ hands ended with a well-executed try in the corner with a successful conversion. Both teams showed great sportsmanship. Standout players from Takapuna were: Glenn Tucker, Charles Bradley, Antony Hamilton, and Euan Wilson while from the Rifles Bombers, Tom Kippenberger, Ben Claxton, Carl Anderson, and Dave Rattenburg.
Takapuna Bombers won by default over College Rifles Raiders, though the Raiders took the on-field match by three tries to one.
The final pitted 2013 runners-up Northcote versus the defending champs College Rifles Bombers.
Both teams looked good on paper but also in the early matches – nothing could separate them in the first 20 minutes, using both ends of the field, the width, solid tackling, and refereed at a very high standard. Going into halftime both teams were locked at 6-all with penalties by Jesse Muir of Northcote and David Rattenburg of the Rifles Bombers. Northcote had all the play, attacking with a tail wind, and just couldn’t get that five pointer. A late penalty to Rifles with two minutes to go, a kick for a lineout you could see the Riflesmen planning their attack. But Northcote fought back. A little knock-on by the ‘Cote gave Rifles another chance for the line. The rest was history: a scrum, an 8-9 move off the back, a little shimmy just around behind the post with a Rifles try to Aaron Westbrook and Rattenburg adding the conversion. Final score: College Rifles Bombers 13 Northcote 6.
Well played College Rifles Bombers, and congratulations on back to back Bryan Craies Cup victories.
The sprint race for the quickest at the tournament went to Dane ‘The Flyer’ from College Rifles Bombers.
A special thank you to Tina Gates and Miles Marcroft of the North Harbour Rugby Union. The planning for this Bryan Craies ‘King of the Middleweights’ Cup started in November, and we all appreciate the work behind the scenes.
Thanks also to Kieran and Karen Jones of Northcote Rugby Club for hosting the tournament, North Harbour referees – Leon Venter, Bennie Van Zyl, Tyron Lagerwell, Scott McKenzie; Monty’s Promotions – sponsoring sausages, referees shirts, and the sprint prize.
A final thanks to Northcote, Takapuna, College Rifles Bombers and College Rifles Raiders for taking part. All the best for the coming 2014 season.