Brilliant Blacks win at last

First published in Sport

Neyland 28

Furnace 27

The All Blacks finally broke their duck for the season with a thrilling victory over Furnace United in a real nailbiter at the Athletic Ground.

The one-point victory was perhaps all the sweeter as Furnace, now in seventh spot in the section, had thrashed the All Blacks by 70-0 earlier in the campaign.

But it was topsy-turvy stuff as Neyland opened up an early 14-point lead as powerhouse centre Adam Collins and winger Richard Smith rounded off good moves to score tries which outside half Mark Riley converted.

Back came Furnace with a try from centre Jonathan Eatley which No 10 Ashley Powell converted, but Neyland responded well as winger Craig Grice claimed a deserved try which Riley again goaled.

Then came a moment which might have spelt disaster for the All Blacks as they were attacking on the Furnace line when an interception led to 95-metre try for Neil Stephenson and Powell converted before notching a penalty to leave the All Blacks just 21-17 in front when they might have been 28-7 ahead.

Worse was to follow at the start of the second half when Eatley scored his second try and Powell converted to put Neyland three points adrift – but the homesters kept plugging away.

They recaptured the lead when Riley scored wide out and capped an excellent performance with the superb touchline kick.

Powell kicked another penalty for Furnace to reduce the Neyland lead to a single point and was just short with two long-range kicks in the closing stages.

Riley also shaved the wrong side of the post for the All Blacks but it mattered little because the final whistle went soon afterwards and the Neyland faithful were able to celebrate a terrific win.

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