- By Adam Julian and Steven White
Aotea College regained the Beard Trophy and won their Co-ed Cup semi-final with a 10-0 win over Tawa College in a misfiring midweek fixture at Porirua Park on Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, visiting Christchurch School St Bede’s College beat St Pat’s Silverstream 26-17.
St Bede’s College overturned a 17-0 deficit to defeat St Pat’s Silverstream in the 36th annual Hunt trophy fixture.
St Bede’s were more composed, organised and disciplined than the hosts who suffered their first home defeat since 2016 and their first loss to St Bede’s since 2015.
The telling moment of the contest occurred about 10 minutes before fulltime. Silverstream was ahead 17-14 and had managed to successfully withstand sustained pressure from the visitors.
Attacking inside St Bede’s half, Silverstream kicked the ball directly into the grasp of tighthead prop Tadeo Andriani who burst 40-metres down field. Andriani was rundown by retreating first-five Lachie Forbes who lost his footing at the ruck and was yellow carded for a professional foul.
The decision was correct from the referee, but somewhat unfortunate for Forbes whose intent appeared cynical given he and Adriani were the only players within 20-metres of the ball.
From the penalty St Bede’s kicked to touch and Angus Grant rumbled over for a try from a lineout maul to established a lead St Bede’s never lost.
The St Bede’s lineout was a major factor in their success. Hooker Flynt Preston scored the same way just before halftime to close the gap to 17-7.
Initially St Bede’s attacked with promise, but a mounting error rate soon saw the momentum turn. Silverstream wing Reihana Dalton was the first to strike on the end of an overlap before blindside Jacob Beattie took a more direct route to the line.
Silverstream halfback Rory Woolett kicked with authority and when he charged down a St Bede’s clearance and collected the loose possession to complete a third try, St Bede’s prospects appeared to be in tatters.
Preston’s try was essential while first-five Mac Meredith grew in stature, frequently anchoring Silverstream inside their own 22 with his trusty right boot.
Silverstream’s ‘exits’ were often poor and when loosehead Logan Bainbridge battered through traffic, the red and blacks were resurgent.
Loose forwards Dominic Gardiner and George Methven were exceptional and appropriately the latter had the final say for St Bede’s unstoppable from the side of the scrum.
St Bede’s have only won 12 of 36 meetings against Silverstream and claim the Holley Shield to which also involves St Pats Town.
St Bede’s have won five from six in the Crusaders region First XV Championship and travel to Lincoln Combined this Saturday. Silverstream host lowly St Bernard’s College in the Wellington Premiership.
In the Jerry Collins Stadium fixture in the evening there was little to enthuse about in the opening 35 minutes as both teams went to the sheds all square at halftime.
In slippery conditions, neither team looked like crossing the whitewash with the exception of an early flourish by Aotea College who were bundled into touch in the corner in the first five minutes and could have scored soon after from a series of attacking scrums.
Tawa regrouped and had their moments, and in retrospect should have kicked a penalty midway through the half to get themselves on the board.
The game needed a spark, and it came early in the second spell when Aotea launched an attack from deep inside their territory from a scrum. From a ruck on the far side they spun the ball back towards the openside avenue of play and centre and captain Ropati So’oialo stormed up field, passed inside to openside flanker Sia Ulugia-Mao who was cut down short of the line in a good tackle. Aotea recycled and tighthead prop Hanz Leota dived over to score from short range.
At 5-0 down, Tawa pressed for opportunities but couldn’t breach the defence. With about 15 minutes to play, Aotea College broke out to score the match-winning try, So’oialo the try-scorer. See below for this second try.
For Aotea, So’oialo was a standout figure, supported by flanker Ulugia-Mao, first five-eighth Matt Matofai and lock Keepa Cherrington.
For Tawa, No. 8 Sione Valu was their best player on the evening, consistently crossing the advantage line with some hungry carries. Halfback Tek Frank battled gamely and fullback Viliame Tamani was again dangerous despite appearing to play much of the latter stages of the contest injured.
Aotea now turn to host Hutt International Boys’ School this coming Saturday, whilst Tawa College meet Taita College in an Isberg Cup and Premier 2 fourth round clash.
The Premier 2 match this Saturday between Upper Hutt College and Wainuiomata College doubles as the second Co-ed semi-final.
Below: Aotea College score their second try and match-winner against Tawa College on Wednesday evening: