TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT: FINAL FLOURISH

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 09:09
Large canterbury celebrate with npc trophy2 800

NPC SPOTLIGHT: rugby365 columnist Richard Neal in his final wrap, gives us his take on the conclusion of an exciting season.

There  were two great games this weekend, an upset and a confirmation.

First up the favourites, Otago, welcomed a fast-improving North Harbour.

Fletcher Smith, with great vision, got the ball wide early for Fa'asia Fuatai to dive over in the corner.

Ten minutes later, Michael Collins linked up with Fuatai inside their own in-goal to go half the field. A maul five metres out saw Harbour's Glenn Preston get yellow carded for collapsing.

However, Otago were unable to convert the one-man advantage to points as North Harbour showed resilient defence.

Harbour even picked up a superb try with their backline all stepping up, as Tevita Li shoved off a defender and fed Michael Little, who accelerated through a gap and went in out wide.

The defensive effort put in by North Harbour paid dividends as they won 2 penalties just before the break, leaving them 7-11 up.

After a poor Bryn Gatland kick, Fletcher Smith returned long and with numbers driving over Otago stole the breakdown.

They went one out and Tom Franklin drove through Gatland to score, the conversion evened up the scores.

When Otago's main kicker, Fletcher Smith, was replaced, the southerners were spurred back into the game, but without his accurate boot, they missed two penalty shots.

Bryn Gatland got into position and slotted a drop goal with 6 seconds remaining to put North Harbour into the 2017 Premiership, 14-17.

In Saturday's game, regular Premiership champions Canterbury showed again why they are top of the game in New Zealand.

They sped out to a 12 point lead courtesy of David McDuling and Nathan Earle tries.

However, Earle was yellow-carded immediately letting the Makos back into the match.

With Marty Banks's excellent kicking, Tasman seemed like they might keep up, but a clinical display by Canterbury's flyhalf Richie Mo'unga saw him pick up a brace and set up two more.

Both defences were solid, even though nine tries were scored and there were some magical moments of individual brilliance including Rob Thompson's break for his try.

Canterbury showed too much on attack and pulled away, ending the game as a contest mid-way through the second half. They ended up winning 43-27.

There have been a number of lesser known players who have put their hands up for higher honours and several fringe players who were called up for the All Blacks mid-season.

Michael Little (North Harbour) has shown a lot of composure and distribution skill for a younger player, helping his team into the Premiership.

Tasman locks Pari Pari Parkinson and Quinten Strange both had superb seasons.

Jonah Lowe (Hawkes' Bay) and Monty Ioane (Bay of Plenty) were consistently hard-working and skilful out on the right wing. Both are young and have big futures.
 
 Score and scorers:

Otago 14-17 North Harbour

Scorers:

Otago:
Tries:
Fa'asia Fuatai, Tom Franklin
Cons: Fletcher Smith 2

North Harbour:
Try:
Matt Vaega
Pens: Bryn Gatland 3
DG: Bryn Gatland

 

 

Canterbury 43-27 Tasman

Scorers:

Canterbury:
Tries:
David McDuling, Nathan Earle, Richie Mo'unga 2, Rob Thompson, Billy Harmon
Cons: Jordie Barrett 5
Pen: Jordie Barrett

Tasman:
Tries:
Shannon Frizzell, Billy Guyton, Jesse MacDonald
Cons: Marty Banks 3
Pens: Marty Banks 2

Team of the Tournament:

15 - Jordan Trainor (Waikato):
The new tyro on the block, Trainor showed skills and composure belying his age.
Bubbling Under: Johnny McNicholl (Canterbury)

14 - Declan O'Donnell (Taranaki):
Stood up at the business end after returning from injury, to add attacking impetus out wide.
Bubbling Under: Jason Woodward (Wellington)

13 - Rieko Ioane (Auckland):
Topped almost all of the regular season stats with some amazing attacking rugby. Player of the Tournament by some way!
Bubbling Under: Matt Vaega (North Harbour)

12 - Jordie Barrett (Canterbury)
Although not always the most consistent, Barrett caused opposition major headaches from second five, full back and centre.
Bubbling Under: David Havili (Tasman)

11 - Tevita Li (North Harbour):
The powerful speedster put in performance after performance to become one of the deadliest players in the competition.
Bubbling Under: Wes Goosen (Wellington)

10 - Fletcher Smith (Otago):
With outstanding distribution, vision and kicking, he will be another Smith to keep an eye on. Special mention to Damian McKenzie (Waikato) who was superb in the few matches he played.
Bubbling Under: Marty Banks (Tasman)

9 - Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau):
His defence went a bit far occasionally, getting himself disciplined. But he was the reason his side made the playoffs.
Bubbling Under: Jamie Booth (Manawatu)

8 - Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Manawatu):
Manawatu's impressive captain put everything he had into every game he played ... and it showed.
Bubbling Under: Luke Whitelock (Canterbury)

7 - James Lentjes (Otago):
The best defender or the best attacking forward? Tough decision, but with the now discarded breakdown laws, being able to tackle over and again for multiple phases became necessary.
Bubbling Under: Akira Ioane (Auckland)

6 - Pete Samu (Tasman):
Samu continued his form from last year as he brushed aside defenders with ease. Special mention to Naulia Dawai (Otago) who exploded onto  the scene this year.
Bubbling Under: Jordan Taufua (Counties Manukau)

5 - Christopher Vui (North Harbour):
Led his team from the front and Vui was always found amongst the rough stuff. Special mention to Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland) who had two incredible games when not in the All Blacks camps.
Bubbling Under: Leighton Price (Taranaki)

4 - Scott Barrett (Canterbury):
Another lock that quietly goes about his business, adding massive grunt to the champion pack.
Bubbling Under: Thomas Franklin (Otago)

3 - Siate Tokolahi (Canterbury):
Hard to fault the big man. His big heart and powerful scrummaging often put his team on  the front foot. Special mention to Ben May (Hawkes' Bay) who had several brilliant games but wasn't consistent enough to beat out the opposition.
Bubbling Under: Siegfried Fisi'ihoi (Bay of Plenty)

2 - Rhys Marshall (Taranaki):
His best year so far. He has shored up his line out throwing and combined with his all round game, he is this year's forward of the tournament.
Bubbling Under: Ben Funnell (Canterbury)

1 - Nic Mayhew (North Harbour):
Like an extra loose forward over the ball, Mayhew worked hard all season and richly deserves this spot.
Bubbling Under: Mitchell Graham (Taranaki)
 
Previous selections:

Team of the week - semifinals: 15 Toni Pulu (Counties Manukau),  14 Declan O'Donnell (Taranaki),  13 Matt Faddes (Otago),  12 Jordie Barrett (Canterbury),  11 Wes Goosen (Wellington),  10 Marty Banks (Tasman,  9 Billy Guyton (Tasman),  8 Joe Tupe (Bay of Plenty),  7 James Lentjes (Otago),  6 Jordan Taufua (Counties Manukau),  5 Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman),  4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (North Harbour),  3 Siate Tokolahi (Canterbury),  2 Ben Funnell (Canterbury),  1 Nic Mayhew (North Harbour)

Team of the week - Round Nine: 15 Melani Nanai (Auckland),  14 Declan O'Donnell (Taranaki),  13 Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau),  12 Michael Little (North Harbour)  11 James Lowe (Tasman)  10 Damian McKenzie (Waikato)  9 Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau)  8 Naulia Dawai (Otago)  7 Jordan Taufua (Counties Manukau)  6 Tom Sanders (Canterbury)  5 Blair Tweed (Otago)  4 Jacob Skeen (Waikato)  3 Ross Geldenhuys (Tasman)  2 Andrew Makalio (Tasman)  1 Pauliasi Manu (Counties Manukau)

Team of the week - Round Eight: 15 Jordan Trainor (Waikato),  14 Monty Ioane (Bay of Plenty),  13 Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki),  12 David Havili (Tasman),  11 George Bridge (Canterbury),  10 Richie Mo'unga (Canterbury),  9 Jamie Booth (Manawatu),  8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Manawatu),  7 Shane Christie (Tasman),  6 Antonio Kirikiri (Manawatu),  5 Quinten Strange (Tasman),  4 Scott Barrett (Canterbury),  3 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi (Bay of Plenty),  2 Rhys Marshall (Taranaki),  1 Joe Walsh (Southland)

Team of the week - Round Seven: 15 Jordan Trainor (Waikato),  14 Jason Woodward (Wellington),  13 Rieko Ioane (Auckland),  12 Jordie Barrett (Canterbury),  11 Tevita Li (North Harbour),  10 Simon Hickey (Auckland),  9 Jack Stratton (Canterbury),  8 Luke Whitelock (Canterbury),  7 Akira Ioane (Auckland),  6 Taleni Seu (Auckland),  5 Liaki Moli (Auckland),  4 Scott Scrafton (Auckland),  3 Ben May (Hawkes' Bay),  2 Rhys Marshall (Taranaki),  1 Tolu Fahamokioa (Hawkes' Bay)

Team of the week - Round Six: 15 Junior Ngaluafe (Southland),  14 Jonah Lowe (Hawkes' Bay),  13 Rieko Ioane (Auckland),  12 David Havili (Tasman), 11 Tevita Li (North Harbour),  10 Bryn Gatland (North Harbour),  9 Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau),  8 Peter Samu (Tasman),  7 Elliot Dixon (Southland),  6 Christopher Vui (North Harbour),  5 Leighton Price (Taranaki),  4 David McDuling (Canterbury),  3 Kalolo Tuiloma (Counties Manukau),  2 Asafo Aumua (Wellington),  1 Kane Hames (Tasman)

Team of the week - Round Five: 15 Junior Ngaluafe (Southland),  14 Tima Fainga'anuku (Tasman),  13 Matt Vaega (North Harbour),  12 Tiaan Falcon (Hawkes' Bay),  11 Sevu Reece (Waikato), 10 Marty Banks (Tasman),  9 Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau),  8 Paul Grant (Otago),  7 Kara Pryor (Northland),  6 Harrison Brewer (Manawatu),  5 Jackson Hemopo (Manawatu),  4 Geoffrey Cridge (Hawkes' Bay),  3 Sosefo Kautai (Waikato),  2 Hame Faiva (Waikato),  1 Mitchell Graham (Taranaki)

Team of the week - Round Four: 15 Jordan Trainor (Waikato),  14 Mitchell Scott (Otago),  13 Rieko Ioane (Auckland),  12 Rob Thompson (Canterbury),  11 George Bridge (Canterbury),  10 Damian McKenzie (Waikato), 9 Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau),  8 Luke Whitelock (Canterbury),  7 Akira Ioane (Auckland),  6 Jesse Parete (Bay of Plenty),  5 Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland),  4 Scott Barrett (Canterbury),  3 Ben May (Hawkes' Bay),  2 Rhys Marshall (Taranaki),  1 Loni Uhila (Waikato)

Team of the week - Round Three: 15 Michael Collins (Otago),  14 Beaudein Waaka (Taranaki),  13 Rieko Ioane (Auckland),  12 Ryan Crotty (Canterbury),  11 Wes Goosen (Wellington),  10 Fletcher Smith (Otago),  9 Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau),  8 Naulia Dawai (Otago),  7 Akira Ioane (Auckland),  6 Pete Samu (Tasman),  5 Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland),  4 Josh Goodhue (Northland),  3 Siate Tokolahi (Canterbury),  2 Greg Pleasants-Tate (Auckland),  1 Loni Uhila (Waikato)

Team of the week - Round Two: 15 Jason Emery (Manawatu), 14 Newton Tudreu (Manawatu), 13 Matt Proctor (Wellington), 12 Rob Thompson (Canterbury), 11 Tevita Li (North Harbour),10 Fletcher Smith (Otago),  9 Te Aihe Toma (Bay of Plenty),  8 Steven Luatua (Auckland),  7 James Lentjes (Otago),  6 Bill Fukofuka (Southland),  5 Dominic Bird (Canterbury),  4 Thomas Franklin (Otago),  3 Siate Tokolahi (Canterbury),  2 Rhys Marshall (Taranaki),  1 Peni Ravai (Southland)

Team of the week - Round One: 15 Solomona Alaimalo (Northland),  14 Johnny McNicholl (Canterbury),  13 Matt Vaega (North Harbour),  12 Tei Walden (Otago),  11 Wes Goosen (Wellington),  10 Damian McKenzie (Waikato),  9 Finlay Christie (Tasman),  8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Manawatu),  7 Tony Lamborn (Hawkes' Bay),  6 Pete Samu (Tasman),  5 Brian Alainu'uese (Waikato),  4 Scott Barrett (Canterbury),  3 Michael Kainga (Taranaki),  2 Rhys Marshall (Taranaki),  1 Nic Mayhew (North Harbour).

By Richard Neal
@RichardTNeal
@rugby365com