League: Swords notch-up first win

By Cameron Leslie

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Northern Swords player Te Tuhi Tipene carries the ball forward during the Swords' win on Sunday. Photo / Ron Burgin
Northern Swords player Te Tuhi Tipene carries the ball forward during the Swords' win on Sunday. Photo / Ron Burgin

For Northland's premier rugby league side, the old saying about hard work equals results has finally rung true, after claiming their first win in the national competition.

Now into their fourth season, the Northern Swords premier side had gone 20 winless games until they met New Plymouth's Central Vipers at Ohaeawai on Sunday.

A few celebratory drinks were enjoyed after Rugby League Northland's senior-most team kicked the monkey from their back.

Rugby League Northland general manager Alex Smits said the 40-22 win was a sweet one.

"It sort of shows we're not just the whipping boys [any more]," Smits said. "And it goes to show, if you put the work in you can get the results.

"We still have probably another half a dozen boys, maybe even 10, who if they would commit would make us stronger. But, if we can start getting some victories on the paddock and start being competitive, we'll attract those boys.

"Another thing as well is it will make us more attractive to potential sponsors and supporters, because it says we do have a plan and they can see the progression."

For Swords player Innocent Tuimavave the win was extra special, after having been part of the Swords team since 2010.

"Really stoked, it's been hard playing for the Swords without a win. This win gives the boys a belief that we can compete," Tuimavave said.

Doubling the success for rugby league in Northland, the Swords 17s side picked up their third win of the season to remain unbeaten after four rounds and sit on top of the table.

Since the national competition was launched in 2010, the Northern Swords across three grades - 15s, 17s and premiers - have had only four victories in three years. In 2013, the Swords have already reached four victories - three for the 17s and one for the premiers.

In Sunday's match, the Swords were first to score after only three minutes, with dynamic centre Ash Harawira-Naera crossing the line. They quickly followed up in the seventh minute with a try to Poasa Rankin, to lead 10-nil.

Monster prop Solomone Palu, who in 2011 was part of the Taniwha set-up, dominated the opposition with barnstorming runs and the quick play of the balls to keep the opposition on the back foot as the Swords went to the half time break 22-4 ahead.

The second half started in the same vein, with fullback Corey Harawira-Naera scoring a scintillating 70m try.

The premier side have been working with St George high performance coach Tom McCaffrey.

Smits added that the win would give the Swords a confidence ahead of their clash against Counties Manukau next week.

Northern Swords 40 (Corey Harawira-Naera, Jarom Wihongi-Henare, Solomone Palu, Dez Reynolds, Poasa Rankin. Joe Rau, Ash Harawira-Naera 2 tries. Corey Harawire-Naera 4 goals) Central Vipers 22 (Jaxon Samoa, Kele Kose, Josh Kerr, Corey Govenor tries. Cruze Rauner 3 goals).

- Northern Advocate

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