League: Ngaruawahia grab win

Conventional wisdom says rugby league games are often won in the period just before and just after half time.

Conventional wisdom was turned on its head at Mitchell Park on Saturday. Imperial Trading LTD Otumoetai Eels took on Ngaruawahia's Turangawaewae in the Waicoa (Waikato/Coastline) premier rugby league competition and it was the first and final periods of the game that proved to be decisive.

With over an hour gone, the Eels were looking like they would be toasting Tane Leef in the changing sheds after the game thanks to a brace of typical hookers' tries giving the home side a 12-6 lead.

But on 80 minutes it was the visitors who had managed to snatch the win 18-16.

The Eels started like they were going to add a third game to their winning streak, crossing the line three times in the opening 10. But with only one try awarded - a burrowing close range effort from Leef - they had to be satisfied with a 6-0 lead.

Leef's second was a scoot from dummy half from 5m out, getting low and over the line.

Josh Weedon converted both.

Turangawaewae looked lethargic at times, but were the next to score, a well worked try to winger Nuke Turner on 25 minutes converted from the sideline by Aaron Jolley making it 12-6.

The game then became a stalemate - albeit an entertaining stalemate - with neither team able to gain the ascendancy or find the telling final pass.

Sensing both packs were tiring, it was the Eels that looked most likely with the backs taking on the workload and making good ground up the middle.

Into the second half and it was more of the same - plenty of passion, but neither attack managing to get on top of the other team.

After three unsuccessful field goal attempts from Leef, Weedon and Holmes, a powerful surge by Turangawaewae saw the ball swung first right, then left, stretching the home side's defence for substitute Kyle Hona to go over. With Jolley again converting, the scores were tied.

The Eels responded almost immediately, and with a similar approach, it was winger Mark Ballatayne who scored in the corner, too wide out for Weedon to convert.

A short kick off was recovered by Turangawaewae and proved decisive and powerful as centre Toa Benioni scored before the end of the six.

The Eels had their own chance to recover the ball from a short kick off, but couldn't copy their opponents' success and, despite some late pressure, it was the visitors who took the two competition points home.

- Hamilton News

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