The first day of matches at the St. Paul's Collegiate First XV rugby festival have been completed with four fixtures, two at a time, contested in calm and overcast conditions this afternoon.
The hosts hit the ground running in a 50-minute affair against Sacred Heart College, leaping to a 12-0 lead in as many minutes.
St. Paul's began at breakneck speed, retaining possession for multiple phases and breaching the visitors’ defence when right wing Matt Caskie chipped and regathered close to the goal line.
Sacred Heart were initially error-ridden and St. Paul's first-five Ferg Burke dribbled a knock on from halfway to double St. Paul's lead.
Sacred Heart regrouped and pulled a try back before the interval when hooker Macaulay Casey muscled over through traffic. Some bustling runs by busy winger Terry Pongi helped Sacred Heart stretch the St. Paul's defence.
St. Paul's tried to use the breeze and play territory in the second-half, but some inaccurate kicking and Sacred Heart’s ability to control possession eventually resulted in a 19-12 victory for the 2016 1A runners up.
Josk Ka and Tuno Lui scored second-half tires for Sacred Heart. The former try was dramatically converted from the sideline by halfback Taufa Funaki.
Sacred loosehead Crusader Falelagoai, or 'Tiny Tupou,' had a storming game with some strong carries and solid scrummaging. For St. Paul's hooker Sam Cooper was similarly effective and openside Jock Yardley tackled himself to a standstill.
St. Bede's College scrambled desperately to earn a resilient win against St. Pat’s Town on Thursday, but were unable to repeat their efforts today against Napier Boys' High School, losing 34-6.
Fullback Caleb Pomare-Edwards kicked two penalties to nudge St. Bede's into a 6-5 lead close to halftime, but Napier's overwhelming weight of ball eventually told.
Hooker Tyrone Thompson collected a brace for Napier and was joined on the score sheet by Tyrone Edwards (13), Nathan Giles (11), Leo Thompson (13) and Patrick Teddy (16).
Centre Edwards scored four tries against Lindisfarne College and at Year 12 is a talented prospect to keep an eye on. Fullback Nikau McGregor was a livewire creating many chances with his incisions and Lolani Faleiva (converted from prop to No.8) was a handful at times for St. Bede's whose best were possibly blindside Joe Toma and lock Tom Koppen.
The latter games were both played over 35 minutes. St. Kentigern College wore down a tenacious Christchurch Boys' High School 46-6 - a score line that flattered St. Kent's who lost their first pre-season match in six years to Hastings BHS earlier this week.
Alex Harford kicked two penalties to nudge Christchurch into a slender 6-5 halftime lead. The UC Championship champions frustrated St. Kent's with their niggle at the ruck and blindside Ben Colvin and hooker Adam Reid in particular played out of their skins.
St. Kent's hammered the Christchurch line for close to ten minutes after halftime and when silky first-five Rivez Reihana grubbered to himself to score a try the floodgates suddenly opened.
The St. Kent's try scorers were Reihana, Jona Mataieiwa (12), Peni Lasaga (14), Benji Pauga (11), Rivez Reihana (10), Etene Nanai (13) and Kuli Baleisomosomo (reserve outside back).
Nanai's try was an outstanding individual effort. He spun 180 degrees through two defenders and darted 55-metres up the touchline while Lasaga suggested he could get a job as a backup dancer for Beyonce with some lightning footwork close to the posts.
King's College outclassed a disappointing Gisborne Boys' High School 58-7. Gisborne had a period just before halftime and midway through the second stanza where they asked some questions of King's, but lacked their usual high standards. King's tries were scored by: Epeli Ula (3), Meihana Grindlay (2), Aidan Morgan, Luke Tuhaka, Junior Ratuva, Callum Douglas and Sam Ludbrook.
Ula on the left wing was fast and elusive, Grindlay is a sturdy second-five who performs the goal-kicking duties and lock Sam Ludbrook is athletic and caused hassles both with ball in hand and in the lineouts.
Gisborne centre and Hurricanes Under-18 rep Austin Brown, No.8 Quade Tapsell and tighthead Joe Mason will be key figures in Gisborne's season.
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