St Paul’s College have claimed the Championship title for the second straight year, edging out season debutants Wesley College 23-10 to win the SAS College Rugby League grand final on Wednesday night.
It was straight out the gates for St Paul's College with back to back sets to start the game.
Prop Sione Ngahe opened the score, storming over the line and under the sticks with standoff Dylan Tavita adding the extras for an early 6-0 lead.
St Paul's dodged a bullet when Wesley's standoff Adam Pompey kicked the ball high before Sione Hafoka crossed over, only to be denied points with a knock on.
That counted for little in the end with Wesley shifting the ball quickly to the left and an opening try to wing Saia Latu.
With the conversion flying wide, St Paul's led 6-4.
Further St Paul's tries to wing Duken Williams and hard-working fullback Star Toa took the lead out to 14-4.
Tavita added the extras to give his side a 16-4 lead at the break.
While St Paul's held a points advantage coming into the second stanza, Wesley have history of showing up in the second half and producing better efforts.
It took 15 minutes before points were scored. Wesley accelerated down field before hooker Larenz Tupaea crashed over from dummy half.
Pompey converted to get up 16-10.
But St Paul's hit back with an offload from prop Zephaniah Aerenga and a shift to the right.
Fullback Star Toa proved just why he's worthy of being named in the 1st XIII team of the year, storming through the pack to fall just short of the line before Tavita reached to extend their lead 20-10.
Eventually it told, putting the game beyond doubt with another conversion and drop goal to Tavita winning 23-10.
The victory was met by a loud applause from the full house of travelling fans at Mt Smart Stadium #2.
St Paul's coach Junior Fiu said he was incredibly proud of his team's efforts and their undefeated season.
"I'm really proud of the boys and their performance tonight," he said.
"They had camp in March and they've worked really hard to defend this title."
But Fiu admits it hasn't been all about the physical training, with education being a major key to making the team.
"Obviously the physical training is important, but they had to work their butts off at school if they wanted to make the team.
"Education was always a priority before taking the field," he said.
The rugby league season isn't over for the central Auckland school who now shift their focus on playing in the NZRL Secondary Schools tournament later this month.
St Paul's College 23 (Star Toa, Duken Williams, Dylan Tavita, Sione Ngahe tries; Dylan Tavita x3 goals, x1 drop goal) BEAT Wesley College 10 (Saia Latu, Larenz Tupaea tries; Adam Pompey x1 goal) HT: 16-4 at Mount Smart Stadium #2.
Manurewa High School 10 Southern Cross 8
Manurewa High School won their first ever piece of SAS College Rugby League silverware on Wednesday night, beating Southern Cross Campus 10-8 in the Pennant grand final at Mount Smart Stadium #2.
The match was evenly contested with both schools aggressive on the attacking side of the ball and tough on defence.
A great start for Manurewa saw them score first with Nareir Mughal finding space on the left edge to cross over the line.
With the conversion flying wide, the score remained 4-0.
On numerous occasions Southern Cross looked to score, but great defence from Manurewa held them out.
With three minutes left on the clock Manurewa's Tyrone Siua charged over the line to double their lead 8-0.
Stand off Jonty Timoti added the extras to make it 10-0.
Manurewa gave away a number of penalties, putting them under defensive pressure which eventually led to Southern Cross being awarded a penalty goal before the siren.
5 minutes into the second half and Southern Cross scored their first try with hooker Samiuela Lauhingoa crossing the line and centre Siave Togoiu converting.
Manurewa looked to secure their victory when halfback Niko Moala chipped the ball over the top. Winger Mughal chased to collect his second on their left edge but was denied points for stepping out of the line.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Southern Cross endeavored to get in front with an early kick into space. Winger Filifili Feso kicked the ball further down the field only to be held up in time for the full time whistle and Manurewa to claim the 10-8 victory.
Manurewa High School 10 (Tyrone Siua, Nareir Mughal tires; Jonty Timoti x1 goals) BEAT Southern Cross Campus 8 (Samiuela Lauhingoa try; Siave Togoiu x2 goals) HT: 10-2 at Mount Smart Stadium #2.
Papatoetoe 14 Sir Edmund Hillary 10
It was another thrilling grand final performance for Papatoetoe, winning the SAS College Rugby League Bowl title 14-10 over Sir Edmund Hillary.
Wednesday night's final at Mount Smart Stadium #2 was dominated by Papatoetoe from the early exchanges, putting first points on the board with a try to Nakitea Toka and stand off Thornton Edmonds converting to lead 6-0.
Camped on Sir Edmund Hillary's line, it wasn't long before Papatoetoe's fullback Joshua Cooper found a gap to double their advantage.
Sir Edmund had a chance to add points, splitting the line through props Vincent Ki and TJ Loamanu only to be stopped by Cooper with a great tackle.
In a second attempt to get over the line Sir Edmund's centre dribbled the ball through, but with no one around they were unable to score - an impatient end to the set.
It was third time lucky for Sir Edmund Hillary's Altalie Solovi, storming over for the school's first try.
Halfback Philip Fulutusi added the extras to get up 6-10 before halftime.
Crowds at the stadium came to life when Fulutusi was awarded a try with only 5 minutes remaining in the second half.
Pressure built on Sir Edmund Hillary's line when Papatoetoe's halfback Paula Mahe rushed through just short of the line.
With only seconds left on the clock, centre Melvin Maile-La'a scored out of dummy half to secure the 14-10 victory.
Papatoetoe High School 14 (Joshua Cooper, Melvin Maile-La'a, Nakitea Toka tries; Thornton Edmonds x1 goal) BEAT Sir Edmund Hillary 10 (Philip Fulutusi, Altalie Solovi tries; Philip Fulutusi x1 goal) HT: 10-6 AT Mt Smart Stadium #2.
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