Hastings Boys’ High School have won the National Top Four for the first time after defeating Hamilton Boys’ High School 25-17 in a gripping final which featured six lead changes.
St Mary’s College beat Hamilton Girls’ High School to win the Girls final, while St Peter’s School beat Feilding High School 31-3 to win the Co-ed Cup final.
With three minutes remaining, Hastings was ahead 18-17 and Hamilton had the ball ten-metres shy of halfway. Hastings captain and loosehead Kianu Kereru-Symes won an inspirational penalty with a crunching tackle and steal at the ruck.
Hastings kicked inside the Hamilton 22 and despite an often wobbly lineout secured the ball cleanly and drove forward. Hamilton suppressed the maul, but were unable to stop Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe from scoring the winning try. The tighthead prop launched himself on to a short ball and steamed 10-metres to touch down under the posts. Fullback Danny Toala converted and it was curtains for a gallant Hamilton.
Earlier Hastings made a sensational start when first-five Lincoln McClutchie glided into a hole and put Kini Naholo in space. The Fijian flyer scored his 41st try of the season and it was 5-0 after two minutes.
Naholo was active early making a smashing tackle from an attacking high kick and then earning Hastings a five-meter scrum from a chip and chase. Hastings failed to add to their score though with Toala missing a sitter of a penalty shot.
Gradually Hamilton fought back. First-five Coby Miln kicked a penalty and after 13 minutes winger Josh Calvert was able to dash over in the corner following at least a dozen phases and powerful carries by tighthead Keelan Haten-McMullen and impressive loose forwards Tevita Fa’ukafa and Charles Alaimalo,
The soggy field became choppy terrain suiting Hamilton Boys.’ The Chiefs regional champions dictated the pace of proceedings Miln increased the lead to 14-5 with three penalties on the trot.
In the 16th minute McClutchie made another break and forced a five-metre scrum, but Hamilton was able to avoid any further damage.
In the last five minutes of the first-half, Hastings won three crucial ruck turnovers. Toala reduced the deficit with a penalty to make it 14-8 and another turnover led to attack inside the Hamilton 22.
Tavita-Metcalfe made a bullying run to carry Hastings to within inches of the posts and then halfback Shamara Brooks ran for the first time capturing Hamilton by surprise. Toala converted and it was 15-14 to Hastings at halftime.
The second-half was a classic arm-wrestle with most of the play located between the two ten-metres lines.
Hamilton was also forced to swap goal kickers, but Fletcher Morgan was on target with his only penalty kick to make it 17-15 to Hamilton after 45 minutes. In the 47th minute Toala regained the lead for Hastings when he punished Hamilton for making a hash of the restart.
In addition to Alaimalo and Fau’ukafa, lock Josh Lord and loosehead Matthew Kemp played outstanding finals and centre Tauterangimarie Kapea was difficult to halt at times.
For Hastings openside Jeriah Mau and No.8 Devan Flanders scrapped tenaciously and the latter was able to clean up a lot of messay ruck ball for Hastings. The workrate of props Tavita-Metcalfe and Kereru-Symes was huge. In the backs McClutchie, Naholo and Toala all had an obvious impact.
Hastings was unbeaten in 21 games this season. They have become the lucky 13th unbeaten winner of the National Top Four.
Saint Kentigern College beat Southland Boys’ High School in the third-fourth playoff match.
In an unforgettable final game of their school careers for many of the players, St Kent’s led 21-3 at halftime and then 21-3 at fulltime.
The match promised plenty when St Kent’s flew in for two converted tries in the opening five minutes, one off a lineout drive and the other through first-eighth Rivez Reihana who sliced through to score under the poles.
Reihana was almost in under the bar again, but was tripped up in a bootlace tackle.
The workmanlike Southlanders, featuring strong games throughout from the #5 locking, openside flanker and halfback positions, got themselves into the match and got on the board through a penalty. They missed two more penalty chances and then lost four consecutive lineouts as they dominated territory but failed to capitalise.
Instead, St Kent’s scored their third try and the final score of the match on the stroke of halftime, after a penalty and another lineout drive.
St Kent’s dominated most of the territory in the second half, while Southland held their own in the possession stakes and exerted scrum pressure. St Kent’s didn’t look like scoring in the second spell, while Southland were unlucky not to score a try at the very end in a strong finish and a late red card to the St Kent’s lock for a dangerous lift in a lineout.
St Peter’s suffocate Feilding in Co-ed Cup Final
St Peter's Cambridge are National co-ed champions for the first time after a convincing 31-3 victory over a lacklustre Feilding High School.
The dominance of the St Peter’s forwards was best illustrated midway through the second-half when despite being reduced to 13 men, Feilding couldn’t score a point against the Chiefs co-ed champions.
With 20 minutes remaining Fielding was down 24-3 when the match threatened to turn in favour of the defending champions.
St Peter’s hooker Sean Chenery (cynical play) and lock Peni Finau (high tackle) were sin binned in quick succession as Fielding was held up over the try line.
However Fielding mistakes and a smart and tough rearguard by St. Peter’s foiled Fielding's challenge. Excellent around the corner, short-side forward running starved Fielding of the possession required to mount a comeback.
Feilding started in an encouraging fashion when fullback Drew Wild (who never stopped trying) kicked the opening penalty and wing Coby Osborne was hauled down close to the line in the second minute.
However St Peter’s soon warmed to their work and openside Devin Gregory crossed the chalk after not being held in a tackle.
Centre PJ Latu expanded St Peter’s lead to 14-3 when he dashed 65-metres following an offload from standout No.8 Andrew Viane. Viane’s ability to offload was highly impressive and often created momentum for St Peter’s.
Wing Brodie Mitchell kicked a penalty to make it 17-3, but he should have scored a try as well when he dropped a pass in the clear.
Two minutes for the end Chenery scored the winning try after a long rolling maul. Feilding gradually fell apart as the strain of the St Peter’s forwards took its toll.
In the Co-ed playoff for third and fourth, St Andrew's College defeated Rangitoto College 27-17.
St Mary’s add Top 4 title to Condor 7s silverware
St Mary's College have won their first National Top Four title accounting for Hamilton Girls’ High School, 29-12. For St. Mary’s it’s a reversal of last year's final defeat to Southland Girls’ High School.
It blustery, soggy conditions, both teams produced an excellent spectacle which was perhaps closer than the final scoreline suggested.
The decisive moment of the match occurred six minutes into the second-half. Hamilton was hot on attack inside the St Mary's 22 and surrendered a tighthead. Powerful runs by St Mary's centres Dhys Faleafaga and Ana Puleiata were followed by a storming charge by loosehead Marianive Leota who rampaged 20-metres to the try line to make it 22-5.
The 17 -point margin was never lost by St. Mary’s, despite conceding the next try to Hamilton hooker Lena Mitchell.
Puleiata, absent on Friday due to netball commitments, added a lot of spark for the Wellington champions and scored the last try from multiple phase attack.
Faleafaga was potent early for St Mary’s making two clean breaks, but it was wing Te Araroa Sopoaga (sister of All Black Lima Sopoaga) who had the first say for St. Mary’s.
Opposite wing Paj Walker responded for Hamilton to equalise at 5-5, but St Mary’s gained the assecdney with tries to Puleiata and Faleafaga before the break.
Dangerous Hamilton centre Jazmin Hotham was relatively subdued and despite strong games by Hamilton forwards Alison Mills, Nyesha Hamilton and Rianna Ahokava, St Mary’s were worthy winners.
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