Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Never-say-die Mount win thriller

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Zar Lawrence makes a break for Mount Maunganui Sports against Whakarewarewa at Blake Park on Saturday. Photo / Rick Moran
Zar Lawrence makes a break for Mount Maunganui Sports against Whakarewarewa at Blake Park on Saturday. Photo / Rick Moran

Mount Maunganui Sports and Whakarewarewa produced 80 minutes of rugby at Blake Park on Saturday worthy of any grand final stage.

Undefeated Mount Maunganui came back from trailing 21-13 with 10 minutes to play to snatch a thrilling 24-21 victory well into injury time in captain Chris Elvin's 200th match.

The skill level and intensity was a step up from the preceding three rounds as some of the Bay's best players locked horns in a pulsating game played in front of Steamers head coach Clayton McMillan.

The hero for the green and golds was first-five Ngatai Kingi, making his first start of the season with regular pivot Pera Gibbs injured. Kingi kicked two late penalties under pressure to snatch the win, with the decisive goal a beauty from near touch 30 metres out.

Kingi is well regarded in Bay of Plenty rugby circles as one of the talented crop of young 10s coming through the development system and before this season played his rugby for Rangiuru.

As his final kick sailed through the posts you had to feel sorry for Whakarewarewa who contributed so much to the match. They outscored Mount Maunganui three tries to two, with Steamers star Te Rangi Fraser scoring one and kicking three difficult conversions.

But the try of the match went to a scorching individual break from Mount Maunganui winger Marnus Hanley who looks a fine prospect.

But the difference between the sides was Mount Maunganui's discipline, with Kingi converting all four penalty attempts at goal while Mount Maunganui did not concede a penalty in kicking range.

Mount coach Rodney Voullaire was thrilled for Kingi and how well his team performed under pressure. "We have all known around the Bay that Ngatai Kingi has got what it takes. He is enjoying it and got some good front football to play with.

"Whaka are a big strong pack and I give credit to them. They like running with the ball and offloads. The thing is we won the game in the last few minutes last week and did it again this week.

"We have a whole new system and game plan now and four weeks in we obviously still have a lot of work to do. We love playing with a lot of width and just love passing the ball and running with it. I think that is what it is all about."

Whakarewarewa co-coach Pere Paul was upbeat despite the last play defeat. "The key thing in the loss was a lack of discipline. We wanted to build phases and we did that, especially in the second part of the first half and through the second half. It is disappointing to come away with nothing from the game.

"We have a pack that is certainly going to match it at this level and we have a Rolls- Royce backline that can go with it too. But it is about putting it together and playing a pattern that we can start building on and going forward."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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