Nelson College held off waves of late Whanganui Collegiate attack on their own line to beat them 13-7 and win the 93rd Quadrangular Tournament in atrocious conditions at Wellington College this afternoon.
After scoring the only points of the second spell soon after halftime through second five-eighth Louis Carmine, and with wind and rain closing in, Nelson were forced into defensive mode for much of the rest of the game.
Whanganui, through their committed ball runners, led by No. 8 Semi Verdoese and bustling hooker Ben Strang, closed out the match hot on attack on Nelson’s line. There were at least four clear chances to score plus a charge-down of a clearing kick but all were repelled by Nelson whose unwavering defence held firm.
Earlier, it was Whanganui who scored the game’s first try after a break into the 22 and subsequent forwards momentum sending lock Hunter Morrison over the whitewash. Second five-eighth Te Atawhai Mason guided the conversion through with the wind and they led 7-3 late in the half.
Nelson created momentum and their forwards were held up over the line, forcing a 5-metre scrum, from which halfback Mason Lund made a dart and scored to put them up 8-7 at halftime.
Nelson won the tourney for the 26th time (five shared) overall and the third time in the past five years.
The last final to feature Nelson and Whanganui prior to today was in 1996 when Nelson also won 29-15. The last time Whanganui beat Nelson in a final was 33-9 in 1974.
The last time Whanganui won a final was in 1991, the year Ed Sheeran was born and Bryan Adams was top of the Billboard charts.
Home side Wellington College could count themselves unlucky not to beat Christ’s College in the playoff for third and fourth, which finished up as an 18-18 draw. Conditions were dry throughout the first-half of this match, but both sides struggled in the difficult crosswind and in the rain when it arrived at halftime.
Christ’s went ahead 5-0 early through a try to prop Liam Pratt, before both sides kicked a penalty to advance the score to 8-3.
About five minutes before halftime, Christ’s halfback Max Goulter scored a try from a 5-metre scrum to extend their lead to 15-3. But Wellington College scored a timely try in reply to blindside flanker Oscar Quin. The conversion made it 15-10 at the turnaround.
Wellington flyhalf Jacob Waikiri-Jones closed the gap to 15-13 with a penalty, as his forwards dug deeper and pushed Christ’s close several times. Christ’s gave away several penalties and eventually had a man sent to the sin-bin. In his absence, Wellington came up with what appeared to be the winning try to hooker Chris Bramley.
But Christ’s had one final raid up into opposition territory and second five-eighth Shun Miyake kicked a penalty to level it up to 18-18.
The last draw in the third-place playoff was in 2013 when Christ’s shared an 18-18 draw with Whanganui Collegiate. The last draw between Wellington and Christ’s was a 15-15 tie in the same fixture in 1996. Wellington have still never finished outright fourth in consecutive years at the Quad.
Day one (Monday) reports:
Whanganui Collegiate: 32 v Wellington College: 5
Whanganui Collegiate defeated Wellington College for the first time since 1996; earning their biggest win against the hosts since 1927 with a sometimes impressive, often dogged display.
Whanganui effectively won the game in the first ten minutes leaping to a 15-0 lead.
An early handling error by Wellington enabled Whanganui to enter the Wellington 22 and kick a penalty.
Whanganui No.8 Semi Vodosese proved explosive at times and a 60-meter burst by the Fijian was the catalyst for a try to bustling hooker Ben Strang.
Te Atawhai Mason produced a classy display. Not only was his goal kicking near faultless with five success from six attempts, but searing pace saw the Whanganui second-five score the visitors second try from a charge down and 40-meter pursuit.
Wellington enjoyed obvious superiority in the scrum, but a lack of pace and precision in the backline meant little reward materialised.
No.8 Flynn Crampton did close the gap to 15-5 at halftime, but Whanganui was successful in foiling most of Wellington’s attack, despite losing a player to the sin bin.
Wellington rejected a number of kickable penalties and were made to pay dearly midway through the second-half when Mason slipped his marker to complete a double.
Vodosese completed the scoring when he strode clear just before fulltime.
Lock Joseph Abernethy and captain Kenry Kilmster on the blindside were other standouts for Collegiate.
For Wellington, hooker Christopher Bramley was determined and reserve midfield back Apisaloma Tulua isn’t absent of size or ability.
Nelson College: 26 v Christ’s College: 14
In addition to qualifying for the final, Nelson College claimed maximum points in a Crusaders First XV competition fixture to go top of that competition.
Nelson never trailed on the scoreboard and that was fitting given the industry and excellence of their forwards.
In addition to scoring four tries, Nelson was held up over the line three times as they posed plenty of questions of the Christ’s defence.
Nelson’s initial breakthrough was made by lock Daniel Dixon who punched through a hole and drove 15-metres.
Nelson camped inside the Christ’s 22, but were unable to breach the reigning Quad champions defence.
Two minutes before halftime, Nelson captain Fergus Hughes crossed after supporting a break by wing Ben Faingaanuku at the halfway mark.
Disaster struck Nelson at the kickoff when a fumble was collected by Christ’s centre Will Greenslade who finished over the course of 25-metres.
Hughes was a constant threat for Nelson and a second converted try stretched the lead to 19-7.
Second-five Shun Miyake is the lynchpin of the Christ’s backline. In addition to an educated boot, he has deceptive speed and two steps and two dummies led to a brilliant solo try from past halfway to close the gap to 19-14.
Christ’s failure to build consistent forward pressure telling and when No.8 Taya Brown crashed through for Nelson’s fourth try, the contest was settled. Christ’s skipper Zach Gallagher can hold his head high in a beaten pack.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand