Galbraith Group Nelson first five Willy Havili in action against Waimea Old Boys at Trafalgar Park on Saturday. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport.

Willy guides Nelson to win over Waimea


Twice Willy Havili must have thought he’d won it.

Twice he then had to watch his Waimea Old Boys opposite try to take it away.

With a two point lead mid-way through the second half at Trafalgar Park on Saturday, Galbraith Group Nelson first five Willy stepped back in the pocket and let rip with a sweet-looking left-footed drop kick from close to 40 metres. It dropped just over the bar to give his side a five-point lead. With Waimea’s infrequent visits into the Nelson half, it looked to be enough for the home side to claim a win and stay top of the Car Company division one championship.

Then, with just minutes on the clock, Waimea scored a try to level the game and Waimea fullback Eli Kneepkens kicked the conversion, five metres in from the left-hand sideline, to take the lead 29-27.

Nelson kicked off, won the ball, worked the rucks and then won a penalty. Willy set up, stood back and slotted the kick, giving Nelson a two-point lead with the clock past 80 minutes.

But referee Corey Eggers said there was still time to play. All Nelson had to do was claim the ball from the kick off and kick it out. One of them looked like he wanted to, but didn’t. He went into a ruck and his supporting players conceded a penalty giving Waimea a chance at claiming a shock win.

But Eli’s difficult attempt from 45 metres on the angle sailed to the left of the uprights, handing Nelson the win.

Willy says he was delighted to beat Waimea after losing to them in extra time of the Tasman Trophy final two weeks ago. “It’s pretty good to get a bit of revenge. That last game went down to the wire, same as this one. We played a bit better this week, we kept to our structures.”

He acknowledges that he thought he’d won the game with his late penalty kick.

“Yeah, I thought that was it, but when they kicked off we just had to D[efend] it out and not give away a penalty, but we did. I was just glad we won it.”

Willy has had a breakthrough season with Nelson after playing for Nelson College last year. He says he’s enjoying the step up and what’s ahead.

“Yeah, it’s an exciting time. I’m just trying to put my foot through the door really and hopefully get a [Makos] wider contract and train with them this year, that’s the goal. If not, I’ll just go back and train on what I’m doing.”

He says he’s learnt from his brother David Havili, who has excelled for the Crusaders in Super Rugby this year, that hard work pays off.

“He’s taught me a lot. He never really made it at grades growing up but he trained hard and if you train hard, and do the basics right, you can get there.”

“That’s what I want to do.”