Monday, April 02, 2007

Well done Mooloo-Men!

October 21, 2006

Waikato are the champions!

Mooloo Men hold off late Lions comeback to lift trophy

Waikato are the first Air New Zealand Cup champions after edging out a spirited Wellington side 37-31 after a tremendous surge in the second half that left their visitors playing catch up throughout the match in Hamilton on Saturday. [...]

The scorers:

Tries: Kahui, Kelleher 2, Leonard
Cons: Hill 4
Pens: Hill 3

Tries: Nonu 2, Umaga
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Gopperth 4

Source: Rugby Planet

  • New Zealand Herald match report here.

  • Richard Loe: Warren Gatland emerges as a top contender for All Blacks coach

  • Red Terror remarks: A thoroughly deserving Waikato win. Random notes: Byron Kelleher was the game-breaker and cemented #1 status in the All Black scrumhalf battle, clearly hungrier and faster to the ball than Piri Weepu who had a forgettable evening. Rodney So'ioalo had a big 1st half with a spectacular break leading to a Nonu try, but seemed to disappear in 2nd half. (Will re-assess upon 2nd-viewing). Jerry Collins was tireless and got through a terrific work-rate all game, despite early injury scare to shoulder. Centre Conrad Smith a non-factor. Hardly had the ball. At the 50-min mark Wellington skipper Tana Umaga was barking at Weepu to swing the ball out wide, but fell on deaf ears. Weepu not helped by a Lions pack on the back foot. The Lions pack was not helped by the injury omission to prop Neemia Tialata before the game, and a lower back injury to fellow frontrower Joe McDonell early in the game. Ma'a Nonu had another mercurial game. He scored a pair of tries and had a devastating break down the left sideline in the first half running over three tacklers, which makes you wonder how the Graham Henry cartel could afford to leave him out of the All Blacks. But he also looked niggly and out of sorts afterwards, and once-again throws up the speculative "Is-this-guy-a-mental-liability?" red flag. Mils Muliaina's game was so-so --- Nonu bounced him on that break. Great game for David Hill, the Mooloo Men will miss his cool-headed control and pressure goal-kicking next year. Mooloo skipper Steven Bates was huge. The amazing Keith Robinson got through 80 minutes nicely (but kinda waved Tana in for the score in the game's waning minute to give the Lions a sniff). Book Robinson straight back into the All Blacks and call it a dream comeback. Nerves got to Waikato for a second at game's hooter with the confusion about kicking off a dead ball (referee Bryce Lawrence, who had a terrific game, told them, no) and the Lions still had their desperation last-second extra-time chance; but Waikato just too hungry and stolen turnover ball to seal the deal told you everything you need to know about how badly the home side wanted this victory. Deserved champions. Tana Umaga was gracious in defeat and acknowledged the superior physicality of Waikato beating them up. "Waikato were just too good for us." Not Umaga's best game, but he did get a great try at the end, and of course, now that he's going to fulfill a contract in France, is that the last we'll see of the legend playing in his homeland?? Hooker Tom Willis got through an enromous workrate. Game balls go to Jono Gibbes and Marty Holah -- both were immense in victory. Sione Lauaki had a barnstorming game running the ball and getting stuck into everything, until he went down with a nasty ankle injury late in the 1st half and was replaced by Liam Messam, who didn't have quite the same impact. AB fans will hold their breath on Lauaki's injury -- hope it's not serious. A bruising contest for sure. Now players will sit on tenderhooks waiting by the phone to see how the All Black selectors assessed it... lastly; the national anthem was sung by a 17-year-old local girl from Waikato named Rachael Alapati. "God Defend New Zealand" usually sounds like a funeral dirge to me, but that was the first time I ever heard the anthem swing, she brought a lot of passion, melody and natural rhythm. NZRU organizers should take note and book her for a test (but lose the cheesy Farfisa organ accompaniment, she does it all with her voice).


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