MILFORD Haven earned bragging rights once again as they completed the double over rivals Neyland with a 31-5 win on Saturday (Feb 2).
A packed Observatory Field witnessed the Mariners dominate for large periods of the game as, much like the corresponding fixture in Neyland earlier in the season, Milford proved too strong for their opponents.
The win for the home side is their thirteenth from as many games and they now sit nine points above the All Blacks with two games in hand.
The home side began the game well and were rewarded with a try for Zac France-Miller from close range.
Ryan Mansell also went over from a driving lineout while Dan McClelland was successful with one of two conversions.
That gave the Mariners a 12-0 lead at the break but Neyland were still in with a chance of getting back into the game.
However, their task was made harder at the start of the second half as Jamie Lewis went over for the try and McClelland added the extras.
The All Blacks then did get themselves on the scoresheet as Mark Mathias bundled his way over in the corner after a good spell of pressure. The conversion was missed and the score stayed at 19-5.
Milford came forward again and kicked into the 22 but after Neyland gathered the ball a resulting pass went out of play giving the home side a line out.
From that, they worked the ball towards the posts and were rewarded with the bonus point try as Nathan Williams dived over despite the best efforts of Neyland’s Alex Codd to stop him. McClelland’s conversion attempt strangely hit the underside of the bar leaving the score at 24-5.
Neyland looked to respond with Patrick Bellerby making a strong run before a big hit brought that to an end, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Nathan Banner also looked lively for the visitors but he was unable to find a way through as Milford defended well.
The Mariners regained possession and won a penalty after Neyland infringed at the scrum and they kicked to touch.
Again Milford worked the ball out and Evan Morgan dived over, with the support of ex-Neyland man Steve Martin, to score Milford’s fifth try and McClelland added the extras.
A late McClelland penalty went wide but it did not matter as Milford had secured victory and the double over their rivals.
On Saturday (Feb 9), Milford will go in search of another win as they host Llanybydder at the Obs, kick off 2pm.