East met West at Rawhiti Domain with East coming out on top 41-20 in what was a classic game of two halves after the seasiders led 33-3 at the split.
New Brighton ran in six tries, five of which came before the break. Burnside came roaring back in the final 20 mins, falling just short of securing a needed bonus point try.
The addition of Crusaders players Oliver Jager and Billy Harmon was a welcome boost for New Brighton, both given an opportunity to return to club rugby for some game time.
It didn’t take last years runners up long to open the scoring with wing Jordan French dotting down just 2mins into the clash following a break by Robbie Mulvena in midfield.
They were in again after 15mins, playing under a penalty advantage because of a deliberate knock-on. Impressive Brighton halfback, Tyson Belworthy playing only his 4th senior match scooped the ball up and ran 25m before chip kicking towards the corner where Harmon beat two Burnside players to score.
The seasiders then had three more tries in the space of 12mins through Louie Harmon, Stefan Moir and Scott Allin, all of which were set up by the dominate forward pack, the last two came from 5m attacking scrums to lock in a bonus point before half-time.
A try immediately after the break from New Brighton had the supporters thinking they were going to see more of the same, however Burnside dug deep and matched it with the home-side, then scored a try out of nothing when Harmon dropped the ball on halfway, gifting Jay Lua Lua the chance to swoop on it and use his pace to outrun the New Brighton defence.
For all Burnside’s possession they were unable to breach the New Brighton defence again until the 73rd minute when Dustin Coveney scored which was quickly followed by Conor McManus claiming a 5 pointer with 3mins to play, which was converted to make it 7.
New Brighton coach, Scott Pawson said he was “really happy with the first half” but equally happy to “flush the second.” He praised Burnside and mentioned if they can play the full 80mins like they did in that second half they will be a force to be reckoned with as the competition goes on.
Again young 19-year-old halfback Tyson Belworthy impressed Pawson. Robbie Mulvena was a handful in midfield for the seasiders as well causing mayhem for the Burnside defence.
Down at Linfield Park Linwood continued their impressive start to the season capturing their third win in four games by beating Sumner 76-22.
Linwood led 26-10 at the break but put the foot down in the second half to run in a total of 12 tries. Brydon Stewart-Martin scored the try of the day which started inside their own 22.
Lincoln University are the only unbeaten side through four rounds of the Hawkins Metro Premier Competition after they held off Shirley 26-14 at Burwood Park on Saturday.
The Rams scored four tries too two, three of which were scored in five frantic first half minutes.
Shirley started well and had most of the possession and territory in the opening 10mins, however it seemed like the students were happy to just soak it up. Despite the possession stat, Shirley didn’t really cause any headaches for Lincoln.
15 minutes in Lincoln converted their first real opportunity from a 5m scrum with blindside Tatenda Matoramusha ripping around to score in the left corner.
The next two tries were a little too easy for the students and it will be something that the Shirley coaching staff will no doubt discuss at training during the week.
The first on 18mins started with a 20m break by centre, George Stratton before he was tackled 30m out. Lincoln recycled to the left for Rameka Poihipi who spotted a three-man overlap and put a chip kick towards them. The ball bounced nicely for Matoramusha who had a free run to the line for his second try in 3min.
Poihipi was again involved 2mins later. Stepping a couple of Shirley would-be tacklers before passing to Fletcher Morgan ran in untouched as the Shirley defences seemed to shy away from the oncoming Morgan.
The Vikings lost Jared Briggs to the sinbin, 10min into the second half, probably just the unlucky player from constant infringements on their own line, but Lincoln made them pay the price a couple of minutes later when Kristopher Miller crashed over after five one-out phases on the Shirley line.
That seemed to spark the home team into action and for the next 20mins they were the better side.
David Richards and Liam Timoteo combined to put the Vikings on the board. A grubber from Richards found his centre unmarked on the right who easily scored.
They were in again with 12mins to play, the try of the day from just outside their own 22m. Ngase Maile found a gap in the Lincoln defensive line and made 20m before he got an ankle tapped. Whilst stumbling he managed to get a pass off for Yuki Ikeda and the wing had a free 25m sprint to the line to score.
A string of penalties against the home side released the pressure on Lincoln and the momentum was lost.
Shirley did however almost snatch a bonus point right on full-time to pick up some reward for a much improved second half.
In the other match played on Saturday, Marist-Albion were able to pick up five points against Belfast with a 50-12 victory after leading 19-5 at the break.