The Southern Hemisphere side pulled away in the second half to defeat a spirited Northern Hemisphere side 30-14 in HKRL’s Battle of Origin. The much anticipated one-off match didn’t disappoint with both sides contributing to a physical contest right from the offset.
The game made a blistering start with the Souths managing to get themselves into 10-0 lead early on in the game with scores through Tui Taniela and Josh Tuisoso. Stand-off Taniela and hooker Nathan Black were particularly impressive as they dictated terms for the South going forward, bringing their big runners into play to great effect. However, a unclaimed ball straight from a restart meant the North reclaimed possession deep into South’s half, and from the resulting set the North managed to get a score back through second rower and HKS Reivers’ Conor Cairns charging over from short range.
In response, the South showed their clinical attacking edge with a breakaway score through Taniela’s second. However, the North’s response was equally strong as they started to dominate possession and territory for the remainder of the half. Lock forward and Kowloon Tiger regular Frank Cartwright was a formidable presence in both attack and defense, winning plenty of big collisions throughout the game for the North. Valley Broncos Ringo Lung grew into the game at hooker during the North’s purple patch, whilst his Broncos teammate and centre Owen Pescod sliced through the South defense with a number of strong line breaks, though the South’s Frankie Solomona and Tim Smith did put in a number of shuddering shots at their opposition. The North finished the half strongly as Cairns once again showed his prowess near the try line charging over from 5m for his second, making the half time score 16-10 to the South.
With the game evenly poised at half-time, the South produced a superb 20 minute spell in the third quarter that effectively ended the contest. Lifting their intensity up another notch, their physicality and broken field running eventually wore down a tiring North’s defence to score three tries through Broncos second row Dylan Navra and two from Harry Leato. Despite spending plenty of time in opposition territory and a number of repeated infringements by the South in the remainder of the game, the North failed to engineer a comeback, though a loud cheer did go up for Cairns who again managed to drive over from close range once more to score his third try of the game, bringing the final score to 30-14.