Club rugby: Blues fullback notches up four tries in commanding victory

Blues fullback Brad Kooman has banked four tries as his team beat Midlands in the only game played in round two of Southland’s premier club rugby competition on Saturday.

Kooman’s four tries pushed Blues to a 44-0 victory after it lead 20-0 at halftime.

Blues co-coach Simon Frisby was pleased with the performance, saying it was reset after its “shocker” of a display in its round one 42-10 loss to Marist.

Blues scored eight tries all up against Midlands but managed just two conversions as the strong wind played havoc for the kickers.

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Midlands player Sam Wheeley, left, being tackled by Blues player Kelepi Holi, playing his 50th game, during the Southland premier club rugby fixture in Invercargill on Saturday.

Robyn Edie

Midlands player Sam Wheeley, left, being tackled by Blues player Kelepi Holi, playing his 50th game, during the Southland premier club rugby fixture in Invercargill on Saturday.

Although it was Blues’ defensive effort which Frisby was most pleased with considering Midlands threw plenty at the south Invercargill-based club, particularly late in the first half.

“We had a bit to prove to ourselves after Thursday night [against Marist], so the boys came back well. It was a shock-slash-shocker that first game. So it was good to put that behind us and move forward, ”Frisby said.

Midfielders Kelepi Holi and Kalani Elder both played their 50th games for Blues on Saturday and as per usual Holi was the key figure in getting Blues on the front foot against Midlands for the likes of Kooman to capitalise.

On Saturday Blues welcomed back key players Jay Renton and Arese Poliko who both have had long injury layoffs.

Halfback Renton and No 8 Poliko will both be pushing their Stags cases through the club season.

“Jay has been really good this week on and off the field, just with his leadership, and Arese went well. So they’ll build their minutes back up to the full 80. “

Although it wasn’t all good news for Blues on Saturday with winger Michael Manson suffering a nasty hamstring injury which Frisby expects could sideline him for eight weeks.

The 21-year-old former New Zealand secondary schools representative played two games off the bench for Otago in 2021 but has signed with the Stags for the 2022 season.

He showed glimpses of his attacking abilities against Midlands before being struck with a hamstring injury.

It’s been a tough start to the 2022 premier club season for Midlands, conceding 94 points without scoring a point itself.

It’s probably three or four provincial-level type players short of being a force, but it should be pointed out the Winton-based club is in good heart and their willingness to have a crack in the premier ranks must be respected.

Its Division Two team beat Blues 20-12 in the curtain-raiser on Saturday while the club is also fielding a women’s team this year.

The Blues-Midlands game was the only premier picture played on Saturday with Covid-19 already having its say on the competition after two rounds.

Star was unable to field a team to play the Eastern-Northern Barbarians on Saturday because of Covid-19. Even without Covid-19 Star is light on playing numbers this year.

Star’s B team also had to default its Division Two game against Wakatipu.

Woodlands also could not muster a team because of Covid-19 and its much-anticipated game against Marist was also canceled.

Given the tight nature of the competition, the games won’t be rescheduled. Instead, the points have been shared.

It’s a blow to the likes of the Barbarians who would have fancied themselves banking four or five competition points against Star at the Gore Showgrounds.

The Division One and Division Two competitions also got underway on Saturday and as per any season it included a thrilling showdown between Edendale and Wyndham.

The near neighbors and traditional rivals went head-to-head with Edendale coming out 29-28 victors on the back of a strong display by Brad Whyte.

Waikaka and Riversdale have also been traditional Division One rivals over several years but have combined for the 2022 season with both clubs struggling for numbers.

The combined team started its 2022 campaign with a 23-17 loss to Tokanui in the game played on Friday night.

RESULTS

Premier

Blues 44, Midlands 0; Eastern-Northern Barbarians v Star canceled; Woodlands v Marist canceled.

Division One

Waikiwi 32, Drummond-Limehills-Star 19; Edendale 29, Wyndham 28; Mataura 24, Pioneer 15; Albion 21, Te Anau 15; Tokanui 23, Waikaka-Riversdale 17.

Division Two

Riverton 24, Bush Pirates 5; Bluff 33, Balfour-Lumsden 26; Collegiate 19, Ohai Nightcaps 12; Mossburn v Waiau Star canceled.

Division Two Development

Marist 41, Woodlands 17; Midlands 20, Blues 12; Wakatipu beat Star by default; Pirates-Old Boys-bye.

Senior women

Marist 34, Albion 0; Wakatipu v Pioneer canceled.

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