SteppingStones loses in mixed touch final
Saturday’s final of the National Mixed Touch Championships in searing heat saw Maples Galaxy win in a victory decided by a drop-off.
Galaxy took an early lead through an exquisite side-step by team captain Adam Huckle. He left Neil Montgomery grasping thin air as he pivoted and dived over for the score.
Next, SteppingStones leader Morgan Shelver stepped up with a couple of scores, the pick being the second where he looped around to receive a pop pass from Montgomery and dashed 33 yards to put the Stones ahead. Then Lauren Christie scored for SteppingStones by sprinting through a gap in the Galaxy defense.
Disaster then struck for SteppingStones when they lost their captain, Morgan Shelver, to injury.
Maples’ Dave Acutt got one back with a canny dive under a lunging touch before Scott McCarty showed great hands to spot the rifling low pass by Montgomery inside the 5-meter line to dive over for a Stones try. Dano O’Connor made up for his earlier error with an excellent score, splitting the defense with his trademark burst of speed off the mark, giving a half-time score of 3-4 to SteppingStones.
First blood in the second half went to SteppingStones when Scott McCarty intercepted a pass to sprint the length of the pitch. But Galaxy’s Nicky Keogh scored the best try of the day, pirouetting around two defenders to do so. This was followed up when Vikki Piaso dotted down in the corner after fine work by Riley Mullen.
When McCarty added another for SteppingStones and Chandra Friesen did likewise for Maples, the full-time score was 6-6.
The game had to be decided by a drop-off, where each team starts with five players and loses a player every couple of minutes until it is just three-a-side. The first to score wins. Eventually Dave Acutt took the ball for Maples on halfway and vaulted over the outstretched hand of Montgomery. The defensive line was broken and he cruised through to score: victory for Maples Galaxy.