Wellington College hosted neighbours St Pat’s Town today in one of the country’s oldest sporting exchanges.
St Pat’s Town won the rugby in a thriller, while Wellington College took the football, basketball and golf ties.
Scores at a glance:
Wellington College led St Pat’s Town 1-0 at halftime in the football up on the school’s artificial field, doubling their advantage in the second half. The golf, played at Miramar Links, came down to the final stroke of the match play format with St Pat’s Town missing their last putt.
The 133rd rugby meeting between the two schools was a thriller.
Down 0-19, and permanently reduced to 14 players after 25 minutes (plus a sin-binning) Town rallied to win 31-26.
The winning try was scored with about three minutes remaining when reserve forward Liam McAree busted through the hosts defence at halfway and strode away like an antelope to propel the visitors into their only lead of the match.
Earlier, Town completely dominanted possession and territory but failed to break through and score and also turned down kickable penalties.
The game was turned on its head soon after when Wellington College broke out and Town second-five Sanele Aukusitino deliberately slapped the ball out when Wellington looked likely to cross.
Aukusitino was yellow carded for the offense and a penalty try was awarded. A short time later another Town forward was red carded for dangerous play.
Predictably Wellington assumed control and established an apparently comfortable lead with tries to wing Kalin Letoa and prop Filemoni Sului. They led 14-0at halftime.
It was No.8 Keelan Whitman that inspired Town’s revival. An offload in the grasp of two defenders created a try for blindside Josh Mallon and then a storming 30-metre burst from the next kick-off saw wing Jeremiah Lokeni dash clear.
Wellington regained the ascendancy with 15 minutes to go, their fourth try making the score 26-12.
However Whitman continued his devastating form scoring a Lomu like try from 30-metres out to close the gap to 26-17.
With about eight minutes left Lokeni propped up on the right wing to complete his double and make it 26-22. Boston Christie dramatically nailed the sideline conversion to make it 26-24 setting the stage for McAree’s heroics.
It’s the first time since 2015, St Pat’s Town has won the fixture and their 46th victory overall. Wellington has claimed 80 wins while there have been the five draws stretching back to 1885. The last draw was 3-3 in 1984, the first year the Centennial Shield was awarded for the encounter.
Speaking at the after-match captain Whitman captured the drama succinctly when he laconically quipped, “What a game, like far.”
Meanwhile in the other big rugby traditional fixture today, New Plymouth Boys’ High School edged Francis Douglas Memorial College 22-19. The match was level for some time until the visitors nudged ahead with a penalty.
Video highlights of the rugby below:
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