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Herman’s heroics help St Pat’s Town to beat Wellington College

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For a second consecutive year St Pat’s Town have rallied from a large deficit to defeat Wellington College 22-17 in their annual traditional fixture at Evans Bay Park.

Approaching halftime Town was down 17-3 and in apparent disarray.  Prop Jason Seumanufagai (high tackle) and wing Sagele Aukusitino (striking) were both in the sin bin as the hosts ill-discipline handed the visitors a deserved lead.

However proceedings turned when Town’s Herman Seumanufagai was unleashed. Fast hands down the short side put the beast winger in space and two powerful fends left a trail of destruction as Town closed to within nine following Seumanufagai’s 40-metre stampede.

The second-half was all Town. Taking a leaf out of Herman’s book, the considerably larger Town forwards were more brutish and accurate as the tide markedly turned. Especially telling was the contribution of the the bench.

Earlier Wellington leapt out to a 10-0 lead by feasting on Town errors. First-Five Jacob Waikari-Jones slotted a 35-meter penalty before a fumble by Town inside their half led to a sustained attack and a try to left wing Caleb Stanley.

A bust by fullback Khya Wilson enabled Christian Stenhouse to pull three back for Town, but the wrath of the referee and the inability to handle saw the mericial Waikari-Jones bounce over under the sticks to make it 17-3 to Wellington.

The threat of Herman ‘Hercules’ loomed large. Wellington fullback Kalin Letoa was able to prevent a try with a last ditch tackle, but Herman would continue to puncture holes in the Wellington defense.

It was Herman’s brother Ronaldo Seumanufagai who had the first say of the second-half. The No.8 and captain muscled clear from repeat phases. Stenhouse converted and it was 17-15.

Noah Tuifao-Galuvao and Michael Taliau were the pick of the exceptional Town reserves. The former was a towering presence in the scrum while the later almost scored a sensational try when he cast aside half a dozen opposites like tenpins, only to treat the corner flag with similar disdain.

Wellington were gutsy, but a try to tighthead Siale Lauki was the inevitable consequence of relentless pressure.

In a game that often defied logic Wellington almost secured a dramatic late win. Stanley beat his marker from five metres out and was only stopped in a head high, yellow card tackle by Eti Anae Brown past halfway. From the penalty Wellington hammered away inside the Town 22 only to concede a penalty.

Hooker Christopher Bramley and No.8 Ridge Studd were tigerish for the runners up who crucially lost second-five Patrick Malu and open side George Murray to injury. Murray was blue carded in the 20th minute.

Herman Seumanufagai was easily the most damaging figure, but Ronaldo led by example and centre Boston Hunt had some nice moments. Halfback Setefano Paese was energetic, if not always precise while lock Rory Woods was the only reliable source of line out ball and an effective carrier.

Town wins the fixture for the 46th time. Wellington have had 80 wins and there have been five draws since 1885.

Fulltime at Evans Bay Park.

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