Win over Wainui secures semi-final spot

MSP secured a Jubilee Cup semi-final spot with a 26-14 battling win over Wainui at Evans Bay on 21 July.

On a magnificent mid-winter's afternoon, two evenly matched sides threw everything into it for 80 minutes. An aggressive MSP forward pack led by player-of-the day and stand-in captain Kas Lealamanu set up a platform for first-five Fa'atonu Fili to knock over three dropped goals.

The ref's whistle dominated the opening quarter as he blew a succession of penalties in favour of the visitors. Wainui were up 3-0 when MSP finally received their first penalty in the 20th minute.

By then MSP were hot on attack in the southern corner of the park and after a succession of forward drives, hooker Liu Taituave dived between two defenders to register the first try. Fa'atonu Fili landed a good conversion, the first of his 16 points for the afternoon.

Wainui dominated late in the half and moved the ball well, but the MSP defence was up to it. Prop Solomona Sakalia back from injury was all over the park and the home side conceded just one three-pointer. Right on halftime, Fa'atonu landed the first of his drop goals for a 10-6 lead.

MSP started the second half brightly and when Wainui tried to run it across their 22-metre line, lock Charlie Graham scooped the ball off the deck to give unmarked second-five Isaia Petelo an easy run in for the try.

Wainui went straight back on attack and earned another penalty, Fa'atonu responding minutes later with another drop goal. MSP almost scored when flanker Sio Tuia made the first of two excellent breaks, the second earning MSP a penalty to make it 23-9. Then MSP spread the ball the width of the field, winger Ryan Setefano just denied a try in the corner.

With 10 minutes to go, Wainui scored a fine length of the field try. The game finished with a penalty to MSP, a fitting end given that the ref had whistled a merry dance all afternoon.



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