“Everybody had a man of the match performance,” acclaims Anthony Tavendale when reflecting on Rangiora High School’s 35-33 upset of Christchurch Boys’ High School in the UC Championship on Saturday.
To suggest Christchurch hardly loses in the local competition is an understatement.
Christchurch suffered defeat for just the fifth time in five seasons - halting a 21-game unbeaten streak stretching back to May, 2017. Rangiora had never claimed the Boys’ High scalp before.
Perhaps the first indication something unusual might happen was in the first 10 minutes when after a long period on defence Caleb Beck intercepted a wayward CHBS pass and ran 60-metres before linking with Jack Marshall who scored wide out in the right corner.
Tavendale believes it was a fortunate try, but refutes the claim Christchurch were suffering a Moascar Cup hangover. Christchurch beat Nelson College 22-12 to claim that prize seven days earlier.
“We’ve been working hard on a game plan all year that involves everyone having a leadership role. We’ve got a balanced team and we genuinely surprised them with how we took it to them,” Tavendale says.
Christchurch would score the next two tries to jump ahead 12-5, but it was Rangiora who went to the halftime break with palpable momentum.
A strong carry by Tavendale in midfield followed by a Jack Marshall conversion leveled the scores and then prop Henry Leef touched down - using his bulk to drive over the line from close range.
“We believed at halftime we were a chance. I think they were surprised by how well we were playing. The first 10 minutes of the second-half was a real test,” Tavendale reflects.
Rangiora managed to kick a penalty to make it 22-12, but a third CBHS try closed the gap to 22-19. What happened next was extraordinary.
Rangiora missed a penalty attempt, the ball bouncing off the upright. Instead of the ball going dead, it pulled up before the dead ball line and stayed in the field of play where Blake Walesby following up scored a try to make it 29-19 with 15 minutes to play.
Predictably Christchurch rallied and reclaimed the lead 33-29. However the Rangiora forwards refused to yield and a Marshall penalty made it 33-32 with five minutes left.
Jermaine Pepe was awarded player of the day for an outstanding performance on the left wing, but it was the industry of Tom Lindsay, Angus Fletcher and Josh Neilson that enabled Marshall the chance to win the game on fulltime. A penalty on the edge 25-meters out was kicked to win Rangiora the Trustbank Cup (the South Island schools version of the Ranfurly Shield) for the first time.
Rangiora has won eight out of 12 matches in the UC Championship and are now inside the Top Four with Roncalli to play on the road this Saturday. Roncali have a solitary victory this season and have conceded 575 points.
Nelson College are a point behind Rangiora and today lost 33-7 to Christ' s College in their catch up game. Crucially Rangiora beat Nelson 16-15 in Round 4 of the competition.
In 2016, Rangiora won four games in the UC Championship. In the past two seasons they have won 16 games.
Lachie James, George Prain, Angus Fletcher, Jordan Haywood and Jermaine Pepe were selected in the Crusaders Knight’s Under-18 camp. Rangiora have been coached for the last three years by Glen Dunseath, Craig Mullen and Greg Lewis with regular support from Crusaders manager Shane Fletcher.
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