Hunt for the magic elixir

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Sideline Sid is on a mission to track down the elixir that was given to the Northland team at half-time against the Bay of Plenty Steamers, in their Mitre 10 Cup clash in Whangarei last Sunday. 

Sitting in the stand at Okara Park (aka Toll Stadium), this Steamers supporter was in raptures at the half way stage of the match with "Our Team" leading 23-7. 

The Steamers took control in the first half from the opening whistle, with the first try awarded to Tom Franklin in the opening five minutes.

A second Steamers touchdown to Monty Ioane had the visitors out to a 17-0 lead. 

Northland came back with a converted try, before veteran first-five Mike Delany showed he had lost none of his kicking skills since last appearing in the blue and gold uniform, banging over two penalty goals.

There was plenty of optimism shown by the few Bay of Plenty supporters who had made the long trek north, with the Steamers holding a 16 point advantage after the first 40 minutes. 

The second half completely belonged to the home side, after local hero Rene Ranger split the Steamers defense apart in the opening minutes of the second spell.

Three Northland converted tries (and holding the visitors scoreless) gave the vocal home crowd plenty to celebrate, with a 28-23 win. 

There were a number of positives that the Steamers could take out of the Mitre 10 Cup first up loss.

The Steamers forward pack competed well and the kicking boots of Mike Delany will give his team plenty of points in their National Provincial Championship campaign. 

What was a concern, was the Steamers defense that was split open on plenty of occasions in the second half.

Steamers Coach Clayton McMillan was known for his tenacity as a player and is sure to work on his side's defense, as his side prepares to meet the "Other Bay" in Rotorua on Friday night. 

The match in Whangarei was tinged with real sadness with the passing of All Black legend Sir Colin Meads, a few hours before kickoff.

A minutes silence prior to the referees opening whistle, gave all at the ground a in an opportunity to remember the massive contribution that Pinetree gave to the game in our country and around the globe. 

Colin Meads played in an era where overseas tours lasted three months and the selected All Blacks were given a meagre daily allowance.

While the rugby landscape is completely different, the countries love of the game since Colin Meads took to the field, is undiminished today. 

Pinetree Meads played a remarkable 361 first class matches, which has only been bettered by Kevin Mealamu in recent years, including 55 tests and a massive 133 All Black appearances.

His first class playing career started and ended with his beloved King Country.

Pinetree made his King Country debut in 1955 where he scored a try and remarkably dropkicked a field goal before ending his career in 1973. 

Post retirement from rugby, Colin worked tirelessly for the IHC, CCS Disability Action and the New Zealand Rugby Foundation at a time when the game suffered a series of serious spinal injuries. 

Rest in Peace Sir Colin “Pinetree” Meads



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