Maples Reserves trample over Stepping Stones

| 09/04/2014

(CRFU): Match Day 4 in the CRFU National Mixed Touch Rugby Championship saw two of the heavyweights of touch rugby come together in a potential league decider. SteppingStones have ruled the roost over the last couple of years with a combination of speed, guile and experience. Like an alpha rooster they have strutted and bossed the coop, with feathers preened and an air of dominance that has sent out the message that they are number one in the pecking order. However, they were well and truly knocked off their perch by a crack band of crowing young cockerels in the shape of Maples Reserves.

This merry band of bantams and chicks display all the youthful vigour that SteppingStones possessed a couple of years ago. They are simply younger, fitter, faster, stronger. 

From the kick-off, Maples Reserves started so fast one wondered if they had paid a small visit to the Lance Armstrong Tour de France fun bus for some light refreshment. Such was the speed of their play and the accuracy of their execution that SteppingStones could find no rhythm whatsoever. Early tries by Riley Mullen, Dave Acutt, Neil Montgomery and Jyoti Choi were evidence of the clinical efficiency that has typified their play this season.

The ‘Stones had some early opportunities but either dropped passes, missed passes, or wrong choice of options defined their game in the early exchanges. It proved that you need to take all your chances against the ‘Reserves if you are going to trouble them. Maples Reserves make the game look easy at times, as well-drilled as a Saudi sandpit and as well-disciplined as one of Miss Whiplash’s celebrity clientele. They make the hard yards through the early touches focusing the attack at one point in the defence in order to suck in defenders or break through a defensive line struggling to get onside.

SteppingStones had no answer and seemingly no safe-word either as their pain became tortuous with little or no respite.

Emily Davies managed to grab a try back just before the half-time break but the damage was done. SteppingStones seem to be defined by slow starts and are often in need of a rallying call at half-time before an improvement comes in the second half. However, there was little they could do to stop the Maples’ juggernaut. Momentum is everything and Maples Reserves were like a snowball flying down a St. Moritz double-black run on greased-up skis.  An early try from the Stones’ Rudolf Weder gave a brief glimmer of hope but Choi (twice) and Vikki Piaso stretched the lead. This contest may have been effectively over by half-time but Reserves just kept flying along.

A brief scoring cameo from Simon Raftopolous brought some consolation for SteppingStones but the final score of 9-4 was as emphatic a drubbing as SteppingStones have received for well over two years.

Rarely in touch rugby does a match get dominated by one person but when Island Air get took on KPMG it was as good a solo performance as I have witnessed in many a year. In the diminutive shape of Elaine Kerr, Island Air have a strike weapon of rare quality. Fast, nimble and able to side-step off both feet this girl has it all. She was the main reason that Island Air bombed KPMG out of the water with a comprehensive 14-0 win. Kerr was on fire. Her return of four tries, with crucially threeof the first four to be scored, set up the platform for a much needed win for an Island Air side that has blown hot and cold this season. Her fourth try was simply sensational. Spinning through two would-be tacklers who were left grasping the thinnest of airs, she pirouetted between them before dashing 30 metres to score.

The crowd rightly got to their feet to applaud that one. She inspired her teammates to play with confidence and Brandon Smith, Nic Swartz and Brad Stephenson took full advantage. As Kerr took a well-deserved rest, Brid Verling took up the reins and finished the game with a well-taken hat-trick oftries, the pick of which was a length-of-the-pitch sprint that left a bunch of KPMG defenders drowning in her wake.

KPMG have had a tough season but never gave up and with players such as Kim Denison, Tanya Potiyenko, Andrew Edwards and Richard Kerr all doing well they can be proud of their attitude and contribution to the game. A final score of 14-0 puts Island Air back into the top four and more importantly into those end-of-season play off places.

In the day’s early game Heineken Brew Crew took on Maples1. In a game effected by the heat the pace was understandably slow. Eddie Westin scored a fine brace, with Alex Pineau, Biannca Johnson and Dave Bailey adding the extras for a 5-0 win. The try of the game was something that the Maples defender Paul “Barrel” Johnson will want to forget. As Heinekens’ Biancca Johnson took the ball past the Maples 5m line, Barrel clearly shouted “I have ball, I have ball”.

His confidence was inspiring for his teammates. They could concentrate on their own defensive responsibilities and leave Johnson to easily deal with the player with ball-in-hand. Or could they? What happened next will haunt Mr. Barrel for years to come because anyone knowing how Biannca plays knows that she a big fan of the dummy pass to break through the line. She knew she was going to throw the dummy, the crowd knew she was going to throw the dummy. Her teammates knew it, the Maples bench knew it, the bar staff knew it, the man with his dog walking past the ground knew it and even my lovely ol’ Mum knew it (and she wasn’t even watching)!. The only person apparently who didn’t know it was Barrel as he was left looking totally looking the wrong way as Biannca sold him the farm and went through easily to score.

In the case of “Johnson versus Johnson” it was Aussie 1 Kiwi 0.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are not many sports writers who can get chickens, Lance Armstrong, a dominatrix and a greased up snow ball into one sports review. Classic! Lovely Stuff.