Perfect cool, dry conditions at the City Touch fields greeted the players for the first TFSA League double header of the 2021 season last Sunday.
Many were appreciative of the egg and bacon sandwiches on offer to offset the early start, and that included the Eastern Stingrays Mixed side, who began the day with a 10-6 win over the Northern Vipers. After the Vipers scored from the opening set of the game, the Stingrays started to take control. Using their passing game effectively for the first time this season, the Stingrays lead the end to end battle 7-5 at half-time, Kieran Ong scoring twice. Both defensive lines tightened in the second half, the Stingrays holding on to win their first Mixed game in three seasons.
On the other field, the Central Scorpions showed the Wolves they will not be having it all their own way this season, matching their opponents all the way in an 8-8 draw. The Scorpions raced to an early 2-0 lead before the Wolves consolidated to trail 4-3 at the break. It was try for try in the second half, a Toby Gabrisch half run and offload to Molly Copeland allowing the Scorpions to even the scores with just minutes remaining and allow them to keep in touch of the league leading Wolves.
Youth was a contributing factor in the Scorpions win in the second round of Mixed matches. The Vipers jumped out to a 3-1 lead, before the Scorpions scored three times in succession to lead at half-time. After a tight start to the second half, the Scorpions broke free to win 10-8.
Meanwhile the Stingrays were unable to back up their win in the first timeslot, going down 7-2 to the Wolves. Against a well drilled defence, the Stingrays were unable to capitalise on strong field possession, scoring only once in either half as the clinical Wolves continued their unbeaten season.
In the Men’s Division a standout performance from Dave Harris was not enough for the Wolves to beat the Scorpions in the first game of the day. Harris created a number of scoring opportunities but did not have enough quality support, the Scorpions winning 13-2.
Adam Bridgwood scored three first half tries as an undermanned Stingrays held out the Vipers 9-7. With only nine players available, the Rays did enough to remain undefeated after four games. They had an easier proposition in the afternoon, beating the Wolves 17-6, Tom Ralph scoring three times for the losers.
The high scoring Wolves-Stingrays game was in a complete contrast to the arm wrestle on field one. Neither the Vipers or Scorpions could breech the opposition defence, an opportunistic Mitch O’Hara try on the back of two try line penalties separating the teams at half-time. The lead was evaporated, when the Vipers scored on the first set of the second half, but the Scorpions then took control of the game and when Joel Nolan burst through the middle to score, it was four tries in 10 minutes. The Scorpions then held their nerve against a wave of Vipers line attack. A full field try from Josh Dobie kept his side in the contest, but the Scorpions held on for a 5-3 win.
The battle at the top of the Women’s Division remained tight, even an amazing Alice Gregory long ball to set up a Minnie Turner score was not enough as the Wolves drew with the Scorpions. Meanwhile the Vipers displayed the form that has made them a dominant force in the women’s game in previous seasons, blowing away the Eastern Stingrays with a 5-0 second half to win 8-3. The habit could not continue in the afternoon, the Vipers going down to the Scorpions 7-3. The Score was mirrored on field two where the Wolves overcome the Stingrays. After five rounds, the Wolves and Scorpions sit equal atop the ladder on 16 points with a try differential of +9 and two draws head to head.
For full fixtures and results click here.