Kaiviti Silktails staged a late comeback although they were unable to get the job done as they went down 30-20 against Hills Bulls in Round 11 of the Ron Massey Cup.
The Silktails started the game strong on both ends of the field with powerful running through the middle and it was clear from the get go that controlling the ruck was a key focus.
A spiralling fifth tackle kick ricocheted away from the Bulls backline, landing in the hands of Silktails Prop Josaia Raboiliku who shrugged off multiple defenders to score the first try of the game.
The Bulls retaliated quickly, marching up the field with back-to-back penalties caused by an undisciplined Silktails defence. Capitalising on their first bit of attacking field position, the Bulls spread the ball to their left edge through a perfectly executed set play to send Tom Carr over the try line.
Carr quickly nabbed his second try of the game in the 12th minute after the ball was knocked loose from an effective tackle on the 20-metre line early in a Silktails set. Carr converted his own try and the Bulls took the lead 15 minutes into the game.
Bulls Captain Tim Robinson got in on the action after he snuck the ball behind the Silktails line, bouncing off the goal posts to land back into the hands of the prop who scored under the posts.
With the game slowly slipping away, the Silktails were forced to responded quickly as Sunia Naruma scored a brilliant individual try. Feigning a pass to his outside backs, the five-eighth broke through the Bulls defence to streak down field to keep his side in the game.
Minutes from the half time siren, Bulls Winger Maile Li dodged the corner post as he flew through the air to score the visitors fourth try of the game. A missed Tom Carr conversion saw the Bulls 10 points ahead as the teams headed into the sheds.
Coach Wes Naiqama had the Silktails firing as the second half kicked off, with kick chase and aggressive defence clearly the focus for the final 40 minutes.
Reaping the rewards of their defensive efforts, the home team found themselves within meters of the line as replacement Captain Pio Seci palmed away Bulls defenders, flicking the ball to Sunia Naruma to score his second try of the game in the 43rd minute.
Minutes later the Silktails backed themselves again, stretching the Bulls defence off a scrum and it was Ratu inoke Vasuturaga who crashed over, tying the game with less than 30 minutes to go.
With the Bulls starved of possession, they were able to capitalise on the little good ball they had through Tevita Alifa. After the ball was chipped into the Silktails in-goal area, Alifa dived on the ball scoring his first try of the match.
Tom Carr successfully converted and the Bulls were up 26-20 after 55 minutes.
Retaining control of the game, the Bulls stormed up the field through a Leva Li linebreak. Exploiting an overlap in the Silktails defence, Maile Li was sent over the line for his second of the game in the 65th minute.
Scrambling in attack, the Silktails showed plenty of fight despite the 10 point deficit. Involving himself in the opponents play-the-ball meters from the line, Bulls Five-Eighth Zach Nicholls was sent to the sin bin, forcing his team to defend their lead with only twelve players for the final seven minutes of the game.
Despite playing against 12 men, the Silktails were unable to capitalise on their opportunities in the final minutes, going down to the Hills Bulls 30-10.
The Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup is proudly supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.
The NSWRL receives funding from the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports to support the Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup.