Nelson among Pleasant Point's heroes
By STU PIDDINGTON - The Timaru Herald
18 May 2009

Sam Nelson proved Pleasant Point's hero in their nail-biting 18-15 win over a previously unbeaten Harlequins side in the senior rugby competition.

The first five-eighth snapped a simple, but well taken drop goal from in front of the posts, to give them the lead for the first time with five minutes left.

The drama was not over, however, as Harlequins roared back on to attack and Pleasant Point almost cost themselves a win by not clearing the ball from their own 22m with a strong wind at their backs.

Instead, they decided to spin the ball wide and a fumble gave Harlequins a sniff.

Pleasant Point were then penalised but after some lengthy discussions, instead of opting to take a kickable penalty, Harlequins decided to tap and go.

They rumbled the ball to within 5m but a player became isolated and was penalised for hanging on while for Pleasant Point the relief was almost palpable.

They kicked the ball out and it was all over, much to the delight of their home-town fans.

The game had been transferred from Alpine Energy Stadium to the Pleasant Point Domain, which worked in their favour.

Harlequins will, however, rue their chances having dominated for three-quarters of the game.

It looked to be decided at the 60-minute mark when Harlequins seemed certain to extend their 18-6 lead.

An overlap went begging when wing Malakai Fonua fumbled a poor pass blowing their chances and Pleasant Point pounced.

Their big left wing Simon Murray toed the ball 80m and scooped it up just short of the tryline and waltzed over.

Nelson's conversion closed the gap to 18-13, and minutes later, his huge up and under was spilled by the usually reliable loose forward Tui Tauelangi.

From the ensuing scrum, Pleasant Point wing Aaron Geary made the most of the little space he had to dot down in the corner to level the scores.

Nelson missed his sideline conversion and the scores remained tied 15-all.

Both sides then missed penalty attempts to win the game until Nelson slotted the winning drop goal.

Harlequins will regret missing simple try-scoring opportunities in the first half and the fact they played into Pleasant Point's hands in the second half with too many forwards standing wide rather than rumbling up the middle.

They started brightly enough, scoring two tries in 10 minutes and threatened an early rout.

Lock Star Tuliakiono found himself in a position he is not unaccustomed to on the wing and he stepped his man, one-on-one, to score.

Fullback Kane Lewis then chimed into the backline on the end of a simple move to dot down and Harlequins led, 10-0.

The game then turned into an arm wrestle of sorts before Nelson landed a penalty goal for the hosts in the 27th minute. Almost immediately wing Maile Iongi, one of the stand-out performers for Harlequins, scored an easy try after Pleasant Point were stretched out wide.

Harlequins held a 15-3 half-time lead.

After the break, Pleasant Point looked more fired up but couldn't crack the Harlequins' defence. Scott Norton made them pay for not translating pressure into points when he landed his first kick.

Harlequins then held a comfortable 18-3 lead before Nelson replied three minutes later.

Shortly afterwards it turned to misery for Harlequins and Pleasant Point played the right sort of rugby to squeak home.

For Pleasant Point, Nelson dictated tactics to be an integral factor in the win.

Outside him, John Peters impressed while both wings had their moments. Up front it was a dedicated effort from all eight forwards with No6 Cameron Lundie tackling himself to a standstill.

The win will certainly give Chester Scott's side some self-belief and it has breathed some life back into the top ranks of the competition.

For Harlequins, their captain Craig Miller was buried in the tight and led by example, while Grant McLauchlan worked hard.

Eric Smith and Hamish Westgarth did their best to cancel each other out, while Iongi was the best of the backs, always looking for work and also dangerous with the ball in hand.

Celtic were the main benefactor of the win as they leapt over Harlequins into top spot to hold a one-point lead.

They thrashed a hapless Temuka side, 82-5.

Pleasant Point remain in third but have narrowed the gap on the leaders and still have a game in hand.

Old Boys have outright fourth spot after an ugly 24-16 win against Waimate.

Mackenzie played well against Geraldine but key forwards Shannon McRae and Aaron England proved the difference in the 15-0 win. McRae's locking partner Adrian Holden was also prominent as was prop Anthony Goades.

For Mackenzie, the backs couldn't get enough ball but Damon Smith impressed at first five-eighth, while outside him Peter Hand also played well. No7 Henry Callaghan was the pick of the Rams' forwards.

At Temuka, Celtic scored 14 tries as their backs ran riot, with their backing up superb.The pack also contributed, grinding Temuka down.

Second five-eighth Kalifi Latu scored five tries while Tofa Afia, Patola Tupuola and Jason Rooney got two each. While he did not get on the score-sheet, halfback Sekope Maea continues to be a revelation for the side.

Old Boys got home against Waimate after being down 10-7 at halftime and 16-12 midway through the second half.

The difference was the Blues managed to play for 80 minutes, scoring four tries.

They would, however, have been disappointed with their first-half performance, especially after the referee, tired of Waimate's infringement at the mauls, sent two to the sinbin.

Despite being down to 13 men, Waimate held Old Boys to one try.

The second half, however, saw Old Boys gain more dominance and first five-eighth Darren O'Leary directed play well while Iafeta Tafunaina was the stand-out forward.

Halfback Phil Candy also got involved and scored a fine individual try after running wide from the base of the scrum.

For Waimate, John Groters and Talitonu Faapuee impressed in the forwards and Simon Proudfoot continues to develop at second five-eighth.

Points scorers: Pleasant Point 18 (Simon Murray, Aaron Geary tries, Sam Nelson 2 pen, con) Harlequins 15 (Star Tuliakiono, Kane Lewis tries, Scott Norton con, pen)

Celtic 82 (Kalifi Latu 5, Tofa Afia 2, Patola Deploy 2, Jason Rooney 2, Kali Latu, Aaron Seguin, Tavita Taufa tries, Jason Rooney 6) Temuka 5 (Tristran Johnston try)

Geraldine 15 (Hamish Drennan, Adrian Holden, Anthony Goades tries) Mackenzie 0

Old Boys 24 (Sam Bland, Craig Bellringer, Jason Hayman, Phil Candy tries, Darren O'Leary 2 con)

Waimate 16 (Dion Gennie try, Faafetai Afa 2 pen, con, Sam Devlin pen).

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