Casuarina delivered Head Coach Peter McGrath’s his 100th win since taking the reins of the embattled Cougars in 2009 with a 29-12 victory over Palmerston at Rugby Park last night.
Simaika Sala’a opened the scoring from the first line break of the match just eight minutes into the game and it looked as though the Crocs might be in for a long night.
Sala’a got his second midway through the half following excellent lead up from Josh Phillips and Matt Weyers.
The half was slow with both packs slugging it out and eighteen penalties awarded mostly at the breakdown.
The Cougars backline looked dangerous with every touch however those touches were too few until a line-out 20 metres from their own try line the ball went wide to Joe Tuisuva who took it deep inside Palmerston territory and found Sala’a backing up on his inside for his third try.
Nate Lamb’s conversion gave the Cougars a 17-0 lead and relief from the onslaught that would follow after the break.
After play resumed Palmerston found themselves at Casuarina’s end of the field with their forwards applying enormous pressure and were rewarded with a Penalty Try which was duly converted by Alex Grant.
Casuarina’s forwards asserted their presence shortly after when Joe Albert scored from a driving maul.
Then from a scrum five metres from the Casuarina line the Palmerston pack pushed over for Michael Killiner to score.
Zac Phillips scored his side’s fifth try close to end which he converted from the side line in a match that the Cougars made heavy weather of it.
Nathan Satala had a strong game on debut for Casuarina in the centres.
Whilst the Palmerston forward pack is arguably the best in the competition their backline made no inroads through the opposition.
In the other game University defeated Dragons 27-7 after leading 27-0 at half time.
Casuarina 29: S Sala’a 3, J Albert, Z Phillips Tries, N Lamb, Z Phillips Con
Def Palmerston 12: M Killiner, Penaltry Tries, A Grant Conv.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby.