Round 2 of the NZ Barbarians U85kg Club Cup beckons, after last night’s match-up between the Lincoln Short-Finned Eels and University of Canterbury Black Mambas marked the end of an action-packed first round.
32 teams, including the Eels, who took the win 55-0, will now advance to Round 2 in the hopes of competing in the national final in September.
Round 1 brought plenty of action as established U85 teams came up against composite teams from across 11 Provincial Unions, providing a feast of high-flying, free-flowing rugby synonymous with the weight-restricted grade.
One of the more notable matches in the Northern Region was Fraser Tech’s dramatic 20-17 win over GTEC Old Boys, decided by a drop goal in golden point time. Fraser Tech’s ticket to Round 2 was made all the sweeter given that they were 17-5 down at half time.
Another exciting Round 1 highlight was the cross-border rematch between last year’s quarterfinalists, Auckland University Squids and the Karaka Razzlers. Following a nail-biting game, the Squids came away with a tight 35-31 win after withstanding a late barrage by an inspired Karaka side, who missed a conversion with minutes to go, and with it, their chance to take the lead. In the end it was the Razzlers who made a premature exit from the Club Cup, as the Squids marched on in their bid to return to the final down the line.
Rotorua’s Kahukura inaugural Club Cup campaign opener featured some brave play, but ultimately the side were stopped in their tracks by a rampant East Coast Bays team who prevailed 51-7.
The Central Region saw just one Round 1 match played, with the Johnsonville Terrahawks overcoming a composite team from Central Rugby Club, who made the ferry trip across the Cook Strait. The game was a feature of the Johnsonville Rugby Football Club’s Old Timers Day, with the home side taking the win 22-7 in front a large crowd of club stalwarts.
In the South, the Pleasant Point Mud Dogs hosted the newly formed Carisbrook Bush Pigs, both composite sides from their regions. Playing in their first ever Club Cup match, the Carisbrook Bush Pigs progressed to the next round after pulling away with a 25-16 win.
Bush Pigs’ Team Manager, Thomas Grant, said: “This competition is something completely new to Otago region and it’s generating a serious amount of fizz already. The Bush Pigs aim to play an expansive entertaining style of footy and make their mark on the 85s Cup as newcomers.”
The remaining draw through to the National Final will be drawn and announced on New Zealand Rugby channels on Friday 25th June 2021.