The drought is over. After 16 years Christ's College have beaten Christchurch Boys' High School in the famous 'College Match.' With about five minutes remaining Christ's was ahead 16-15 when a firework exploded at Straven Road. It was a metaphor for a frantic and historic finish.
Down 15-11 at halftime, Christ's played with the assistance of a brisk breeze in the second spell and were able to anchor themselves inside the hosts 22 for long periods. In the 52nd minute Christchurch second-five Tahu Kaa was yellow carded which paved the way for the hosts watertight defense to eventually open. From a scrum in the 63rd minute, Christ's exploited the overlap and fullback Levi Emery crossed for what proved to be the winning try. In the 65th minute Christ's dropped the kickoff in centre field 25-metres out.
Christchurch fumbled possession a short time later, but a shallow clearance by Christ's failed to relive the pressure. Christchurch centre Taihei Kusaka flew towards the corner, but was cut down in a desperate tackle by Emery. In the 68th minute Christchurch surged again.
Murphy Kupe rumbled inside the Christ's 22 and as he was bumped towards touch delivered a pass to Hunter Stewart who crossed the chalk, but Stewart was the recipient of a forward pass. In the 69th minute Christ's tried to run out from behind their posts, but again surrendered the ball. Christchurch, with no regard for self-preservation, flung themselves towards the Christ's line, but were met with equally fierce resistance. When lock Sam Darry won a turnover inches short of the right goal post padding, Christ's had won. Earlier Christchurch leapt to a 10-0 lead.
In the sixth minute halfback Louie Chapman snipped short-side and caught the Christ's defense undermanned. Quick hands from the Christchurch support players sent Kusaka over. Lock Campbell Reid doubled the lead and lively winger Latham Kelly-Foleni evaded the cover defense in the 28th minute. Christchurch first-five Ryan Barnes missed three conversions which would prove telling.
However it would be cruel to single out Barnes for the defeat. Switching to fullback he pulled off two try saving tackles in the 52nd and 54th minutes' on Sam Abbott and Isaiah Punivai respectably. Christ's first try was scored in the 16th minute by Ben Dickie.
From a midfield scrum Emery managed to wriggle free from two Boys' High defenders and release his winger. Christ's missed three kicks themselves, but two penalties to Dickie kept the deficit manageable. Christchurch's wobbly lineout and the overwhelming weight of possession finally told.
Selecting standouts in such a high quality game is a futile task, but among those not already mentioned for Christ's, lock Jason Embling, No.8 Kaveini Balenacagi and halves Shun Miyake and Kurtis Weeks deserve acclaim for their contribution.
The last time Christ's won prior to today was 19-8 in 2000. In the year 2000 Daniel Carter was playing for the Christchurch Boys' High School First XV and a third of the Christ's starting XV wasn't even born. In the same match two years ago Christchurch won 80-0.
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