It seems now as though only six teams realistically have a chance to make an appearance in the Semi-Finals of the Canstaff Metro Premiership competition for 2020 although New Brighton and Burnside will need results to go their way over the next fortnight.
Dan Fransen came off the bench at half-time to score three tries, including two individual efforts in the final four minutes from halfway as Sydenham once again showed the competition that they can not afford to relax against this side.
Both coaches admitted it was an “excellent game of rugby” especially for the neutral again showing why the Canterbury Club Rugby competition is the best in the country.
With coaching staff from the Crusaders Academy in attendance players like Shun Miyake and Max Hughes needed to have big games and Miyake especially impressed scoring two tries, made several breaks, had a solid kicking game and also kicked some good goals while Hughes also played well scoring an early try and distributed the ball well from halfback.
Sydenham coach Sid Tauamiti said after the game that starting Fransen, the competitions leading try-scorer from the bench was just about giving him a little bit of a rest. “He has started the last four games and we want to make sure everybody is included,” with what is shaping to be a big month ahead for Sydenham.
Sydenham lock Caleb Aperahama had a big game for his team leading from the front with plenty of good carries forward to get Sydenham across the advantage line against his old club.
University coach Nigel Smith said he had never seen a dressing room so distraught after a match in 18 years of coaching. “Nobody spoke for twenty minutes. I didn’t want to pull them out of it, it seemed better to be able to reflect. It has happened to us two or three times this year, but we will learn from this going forward.”
The result leaves the students fighting for a place in the middle four semi-finals but what most would now almost expect a certainty meaning the students can count this season as a success.
Christchurch have leap-frogged Marist-Albion after putting in a clinical performance led by a dominate forward display winning 37-17 and handing Marist their first loss in over a month. Christchurch started well scoring a couple of early tries after soaking up some early pressure which helped clear any nerves the team carried into the match. “It wasn’t the complete performance, but things started to click today” coach Simon Kneebone said as they enter the business end of the competition. Hugh Renton and Will Tucker both had strong games for the red-and-blacks, but it was Walter Huata who claimed the player-of-the-day award after a strong match at second-five.
New Brighton had to work hard eventually overcoming Linwood 26-17 in what was described as “a very different environment for a local derby.” The game was fast flowing although New Brighton feel they left a lot of points on the park. Coach Ross Martin admitting after the game that he had hoped University would do his team a favour by beating Sydenham, but they would now focus on themselves and look towards putting in a good performance against Belfast next week.
In the other games Lincoln University easily accounted for Shirley 64-19, Old Boys beat Belfast 45-12 and Burnside got the win 38-19 against Sumner.
Points (After 9 rounds): Lincoln Uni 40, Christchurch 34, Marist-Albion 33, Sydenham 30, New Brighton 26, Burnside 25, Old Boys 23, University 20, Shirley 19, Linwood 17, Sumner 4, Belfast 1