MSP power home in Jubilee Cup semi-final

MSP powered past Norths to post a 33-6 Jubilee Cup semi-final win on 4 August and set up an all eastern suburbs Cup final next Sunday against Ories (see video highlights below).

Ahead just 7-6 at the break against Norths, MSP's big forward pack took control in the second half, allowing experienced halves Peter Sciascia and Fa'atonu Fili to completely run the game.

On a calm and perfect day for rugby, Evans Bay was heavy underfoot and the early stages were evenly contested. Norths were first on the board with a penalty after eight minutes. A promising MSP move saw a Norths player yellow carded for an early tackle, and their tactic of peppering fullback Andrew Wells and wing JP Tocker with high kicks paid no dividends.

It was MSP with the first try after 27 minutes when Paul Tuia and Lua Lokotui burst down the southern touchline and from the ruck, two wide passes put the ball in Isaia Petelo's hands. He looked sharp all afternoon in a player-of-the-day performance and on this occasion, he cut through on the angle to slide over near the posts. Soon after he was yellow carded following an off-the-ball scuffle, and Norths landed another penalty just before halftime to close it up 7-6.

For much of the first half though there was little urgency in MSP's play. The second 40 was a different matter, however, as the home team attacked from the opening whistle.

Fa'atonu landed a penalty after six minutes, then a Pete Sciascia chip gave MSP a lineout in the corner. An unstoppable series of red waves pounded the Norths line and Lua Lokotui went over to make it 15-6.

With 20 minutes on the clock, MSP battered the Norths line again but excellent defence kept them out. Norths swung on attack but inexplicably turned down an easy penalty which would have put them in striking distance. Instead, they turned over the ball from a quick tap and substitute winger Ryan Setefano all but scored at the other end.

From a Norths lineout, All Black Victor Vito, in his first game for the club for two years, stole the ball and Fa'atonu landed a smart drop goal to extend the lead. By now the MSP forwards were well on top with Hurricane Jeff To'omaga Allen to the fore. Drive after drive from 22 metres out saw Lua score his second try next to the upright and MSP had a 25-6 lead.

The Norths players' heads were down now and off a smart Ryan Setefano break, Fa'atonu grubbered through. A defender looked to have it easily covered but John Gbenda-Charles raced through to dot down first and continue his try-scoring run. Another Fa'atonu Fili pot put the final nail in the coffin.

MSP will take some satisfaction from turning around a 21-point loss to Norths six weeks ago, and in keeping the dangerous visitors tryless. All eyes now turn to the Jubilee Cup final next Sunday. 

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