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It was the biggest upset in sub-union rugby in 1986 when Central beat Eastern to win the Sports Trust Cup, 17-12. The Central spectators thought that they were going to have to wait another year for the cup when Eastern sprinted out to a 12-0 lead.
There is an old saying "Don't give a sucker an even break", and that is exactly what Eastern did in 1986. They got complacent and let Eastern back into the game.
Lock, Ian Harding and played a good percentage game, instinctively knowing which way to run once he had secured the ball. This skill cannot be taught.
Bruce Lewis had his best game of the season and he was probably getting revenge from a cut to the eye, which he received early in the game when he was at the bottom of a maul. His large bulk did not deter him from getting to the ball and using his pace and stepping to make some great runs. He controlled the front of the lineout and was in every ruck and maul he could get to.
His brother, Donny Lewis, was exceptional at flanker and with great support from No. 8 Murray Groundwater the two of them tackled like demons and played the precise loose game needed to keep Eastern on the back foot.
Wayne McCallum at half back took a while to settle down but once he did he controlled the flow of the ball from the forwards to the backs and linked well with first five eight.
It was not only the physicality that won for Central but the level heads under pressure and there was no one more in that head space than John Lindsay, who was playing at centre.
If there was loose ball he ensured his team had time to get organised and not let Eastern clamber through. John Lindsay was probably the one that kept the team composed and he did not get flustered or panicked, especially near the end when Eastern realised they were going to lose and revved up a gear.
Even though Kevin McCallum missed a few kicks he made up for it in his positional play and general kicking.
Jimmy Sinclair and David Moynihan showed their pace on attack and were also defensively strong. It was Sinclair that gave Central hope when he scored a try at the 50 minute.
Eastern was 12-0 up from a two handed take from Gibson in the lineout and used a beautiful miss out pass and found John Chittock who then passed back to Gibson on the inside. First five eight, Tua Raroa converted.
Raroa adds two further penalties and this was answered by Kevin McCallum to make the half time score 12-3.
The second try was set up by Groundwater who played the blind side and passed to Anderson who quickly set up again the blind and offloaded to Sinclair perfect timing, he stepped through the defence and scored.
Several minutes later, Dave Holden, not to be outdone, shimmied through a gap and faultlessly passed to Kevin McCallum, who was backing up, he had to weigh up quickly whether to offload, but in his typical calm fashion, he sold a dummy. broke through a tackle and scored.
Both of these tries were not converted which if so, Central would have had a bit of a buffer.
The Eastern team was throwing everything at Central, and to do this, there is always the chance of infringing, which is exactly what they did. The Eastern backs were caught off- side at a maul and Wayne McCallum made not mistake to convert the penalty.
Central was ahead for the first time 14-12. Raroa tried to pull back the score but, unfortunately, missed two penalty attempts.
Donald Morrison, the Eastern full-back tried time and time again to get the ball to his wingers and one phase when Selwyn Winter opened up the Central team did it look like they might score.
Jimmy Cormack, winger, was quickly bought down by his opposite, Jimmy Sinclair with a text book tackle.
The defining moment in the game was when Wayne McCallum slotted a drop goal which meant that Eastern had to, at least, score a try and convert to win.
Everyone was holding their breath until Craig Morton, referee, blew his whistle for full time.
Central: Jimmy Sinclair (1), Kevin McCallum (1), (1PG) Wayne McCallum (1PG) (1DG)
Eastern: Wayne Gibson (1) Tua Raroa (1con) (2pg)
Reference: The Southland Times, June 1986, "Central beat Eastern in Upset"
Photos and Articles courtesy of The Southland Times June 1986.
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