Rangiora High School only won four games in the UC Championship in 2016.
After five rounds in 2017 they have already enjoyed four wins and have claimed the scalps of 2016 runners up Shirley Boys' High School and semi-final contenders St. Andrew's College.
Hooker Josh Duckworth has scored seven tries in the last three games. He bagged doubles in the 27-17 win over Waimea Combined and 28-22 victory over St. Andrew's College and celebrated a hat-trick in the 25-15 triumph over Shirley Boys' High School on Saturday.
Shirley appears to be a fading force this season, but the win against St. Andrew's was a genuine surprise.
"We got up 21-0 at halftime. Our forwards got stuck into them and they were rattled. Their No. 8 was the only ball carrier to start with." Duckworth recalls.
One of the moves Rangiora employed with great affect was a manoeuvre known internally as 'ice and water.'
"In the opposition 22 we often move forward in pods of two. If we call ice the first receiver carries, but if water is called he makes a pass. It works well." Duckworth explains.
Rangiora is an experienced team with only half a dozen players younger than Year 13 in the squad. Duckworth is a solid 105kg and supported in the front row by Lewis 'Doom' Ponini who is 125kg and captain Fletcher Newell. Flankers Angus Fletcher and George Prain are other standouts in the pack.
"I guess our forwards are our strength, but we like to play a structured game which involves everybody. Our midfield is strong with Jessie Barry and Angus Mitchell." Duckworth acclaims.
Raingora are being assisted in the coaching department by Crusaders manager Shane Fletcher. Inside knowledge of the Crusaders systems is proving invaluable Duckworth believes.
'It's great to have Shane involved. All of our coaches are good, but learning off the Crusaders is as good as it gets really."
Duckworth is in his third year of First XV rugby and rapidly approaching 50 caps. His goal is to make the Crusaders Knights camp. In the pre-season Rangiora played three games. They beat Central South Island College and Moascar Cup holders Nelson College, but lost to Christ's College.
This Saturday Rangiora travels to winless Burnside High School before heading to Nelson for a possible shot at the Moascar Cup on June 10. Nelson hosts Marlborough this weekend.
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