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Mid Canterbury Combined Liam Sullivan web1Mid Canterbury Combined’s Liam Sullivan offloads in the tackle during the weekend’s game. Photo Doug Bovett.Mid Canterbury Combined fell to a narrow 15-8 defeat to Lincoln Combined on Saturday.

After struggling against powerhouse UC Championship schools throughout their campaign, the young Mid Canterbury outfit were competitive at Lincoln.

The home team held a 7-3 lead at halftime before Mid Canterbury dotted down in the second half courtesy of Fonoga Lisala.

Lincoln also crossed the chalk in the second half to seal their first win of the championship.

The visitors did however gain their first point of the competition for remaining within seven points.

The team travel south this weekend where they face Roncalli Aoraki Combined.

© The Ashburton Guardian - 21 July 2020

1407 CombinedMid Canterbury Combined lock Alex Barnaby makes a run during the side’s UC Championship clash with Rangiora High School in Ashburton at the weekend. Photo Robyn HoodToo big, too fast.

It was a simple numbers game at Ashburton College as Rangiora High School’s 1st XV romped home with 12 tries against Mid Canterbury Combined on Saturday.

A year is a long time in schoolboy rugby and Rangiora certainly had the bulk advantage in its 70-0 demolition over Combined who are predominantly made up of Year 11 and 12 pupils.

As a result, the side were overpowered up front and forced to defend for much of the game against Rangiora’s size and speed.

It allowed Rangiora’s back three to run riot as they recorded seven tries between them with imposing centre Elone Fungavaka adding a brace.

Even Combined’s set piece was rendered powerless as the side struggled to retain its own ball at scrum time.

The effort cannot be faulted for Combined with the side willing to roll its sleeves up against older and bigger teams and will be all the better for this season heading into 2021.

However, it’s the period after halftime where the heads dropped and the floodgates opened.

Rangiora were kept to 26-0 at halftime, courtesy of four first half tries from the visitors.

No. 8 Will Riley scored after six minutes after Combined’s feed was overpowered.

Combined curiously opted to go for touch from about 25 metres out, however Rangiora were equal to Combined’s drive after a throw to the front,

Another opportunity for points from close range was overlooked a few minutes later with Combined preferring to keep ball in hand, ending in a turnover.

Combined continued to scramble well on defence as Rangiora ate up the metres in contact.

Wing Oscar Burnley scored the first of his three tries after 17 minutes – a simple draw and pass after another incisive run from Fungavaka.

Fellow flyer Taylor Ellis added to the tally several minutes later to cap a high octane end-to-end sequence of play where Combined were also in contention for a try of its own.

Rangiora were eager on defence, pressing the offside line hard on occasion, resulting in a handful of penalties to Combined which kept them in the hunt.

Ellis added a second on the stroke of halftime, on the end of superior numbers after further front-foot ball.

The period after the interval saw Rangiora go up a gear as the possession and territory equation began to take its toll.

Burnley scored his second after another one against the feed in centre field before he set up Fungavaka for a try which knocked the stuffing out of Combined.

Fullback Tama Nicholas, who had been threatening all game when introduced into the line, added two tries before Burnley completed his hat-trick. Tries also went to Andrew Prain, Jayden Simmons and a second for Fungavaka completed the affair.

The 70 point win puts Rangiora fifth on the UC Championship standings, with Combined and this weekend’s opponents, Lincoln, making up the bottom two.

Although they had little ball, Combined were typically spirited when they did have chances.

Charlie Brown continues to impress at the back despite limited opportunities and fearless first five Thomas Patterson is a composed head running the cutter.

By Adam Burns © The Ashburton Guardian - 14 July 2020

Abi Lunn United Netball 2020 webNetball action. Photo supplied.A last-gasp penalty shot ensured College walked away from its premier netball clash against United with competition points on Thursday.

Down by one with time effectively up on the clock, College goal attack Hayley Tallentire settled the ledger at 26-all with a second penalty shot, after fellow shooter Sophie Adams hit the ring on first attempt.

College had claimed a narrow lead by the midway point of a frenetic, highly physical battle.

However United fought their way back in the final two periods of the game and eventually took the lead in a see-sawing final spell.

Hampstead later firmed its position as ACL contenders with a classy 41-24 win over Methven.

Earlier, Mt Somers defaulted to Celtic to put their season on the back foot.

Both coming off opening week defeats, the desperation was evident from the outset between United and College.

The two sides pressed hard on defence during the opening stages, with goals hard to come by in the first period.

A hefty collision in mid-court between Milli Sullivan and Charlotte Samson indicated players were putting their bodies on the line.

All square at 5-5 at the first break, both sides began shouldering long overheaded balls into the attacking areas in the hope of catching defensive markers off guard, which garnered mixed results.

Several turnovers were effected with College skipper Poppy Kilworth in particular proving to be a nuisance at the back for United.

College in the end dominated the second period, claiming a 15-8 advantage at halftime.

United turned the tables in the third quarter, defending stoutly and executing more often than not inside the circle, with Stacey Smith Grant sinking some long range goals after moving from wing attack to goal attack.

Now with all the momentum, United got it back to within one goal in the third spell, as Adams hauled herself about in the circle to wrangle back the ascendancy.

All set up for a nail-biting climax, United nudged ahead courtesy of some pivotal points from super-sub shooter Brans Surridge, who went toe-to-toe with Kilworth in the circle.

College kept their composure to remain in striking distance during the final stages with one of their key players pulling off the clutch play in the dying seconds.

After sharing the points, both teams now sit fourth and fifth on the ACL standings with College holding a slightly better points differential.

It was a closely fought beginning between Hampstead and Methven as both sides looked to utilise their height in the shooting circle via Hampstead’s Alice Eddington and Methven’s Kelera Nawai.

After holding a slender two-goal advantage at the first break, Hampstead powered ahead as their mid-court began to dominate matters with Eddington and Nicole Hands turning a modest advantage into a healthy one.

Down 26-15 at halftime, Nawai was sent to goal keep, possibly to counter the flow of scoring.

However Hampstead went up a notch as their dynamic mid-court combinations fed on any loose ball. Methven competed strongly during the third spell, with Leanne Clemens enjoying further opportunities to land points for her side.

However Hampstead stormed home as goal keep Hannah Spence smothered her opposite in goal as the blue and golds in return were able to move the ball into the attacking third cleanly to finish the game off.

In premier 2, Celtic B dispatched Hampstead B 44-21 earlier in the night.

Competition favourites Southern A hammered AshColl’s senior B side 46-9 before Methven B prevailed over Celtic C 34-26.

There were also wins for United B and Hampstead under-18A, with College’s 10A side having the bye.

By Adam Burns © The Ashburton Guardian - 10 July 2020