New Plymouth Boys' High School has gained a spot in the national knock-out competition with a win over cross-town rivals Francis Douglas Memorial College 21-15 this afternoon.
The victory also locks away the Carroll-George Trophy for another year and continues the bragging rights between the two Taranaki schools.
Played in front of a packed Gully, tensions were high as Boys High formed a huddle after their haka that gave Francis Douglas no opposition during their challenge.
However, Francis Douglas opened the scoring early as first five-eighth Eli Kneepkens slotted a penalty kick from right out in front.
Francis Douglas maintained the pressure as Kneepkens scored himself and slotted the subsequent conversion to lead 10-0.
Boys High got back into Francis Douglas’ half with fullback Mason Milham, who was promising all day, scored a try in the corner as the defence opened up.
First five-eighth Jack Parker was in fine form as he slotted the first of three conversions, from wide out.
With a 10-7 lead at the break, Francis Douglas didn’t appear to be switched on in the opening minutes of the second spell. Parker stabbed a beautifully weighted kick behind the Francis Douglas defence that allowed wing Jone Rova to score.
After a solid build up by Francis Douglas and some missed opportunities, hooker Mathew Picard picked up a loose ball and scored for the visitors to take the lead. Kneepkens missed the conversion.
Boys High then scored with 10 minutes remaining as loose forward George Birkett slid over the line.
When time was up Francis Douglas attempted to win the game adding pressure deep in Boys High’s half, but that wasn’t enough as the home team won a turnover and kicked the ball into touch.
Francis Douglas, who beat Palmerston North Boys' High School last week, would have been disappointed with their set piece that turned over quality ball at crucial times. However, fullback Jeremy Gopperth kicked well in general play and showed his speed.
Along with Milham, William Guthrie was strong in the midfield and carried hard throughout the match.
New Plymouth Boys High School: 21 (Milham, Rova, Birkett tries; Parker 3 con)
Francis Douglas Memorial College: 15 (Kneepkens, Picard tries; Kneepkens one pen, one con)
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