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Big wins for Rongotai and Aotea Colleges in midweek First XV fixtures

Above: Aotea College with the Coed Cup. PHOTO CREDIT: College Sport Wellington.

  • By Adam Julian, Steven White and Scott MacLean

Wrapping Wednesday’s two college First XV matches involving four Wellington schools.

For the first time in more than a decade, Rongotai College have secured a home semi-final in the Premiership, defeating St Patrick’s College, Silverstream 10-5 in the 60th annual Old Boys Cup traditional.

The conditions were brutal with a bitter southerly accompanied by horizontal rain, hail, thick mud and a wobbly pair of goal posts.

Rongotai trailed 5-3 at halftime, but held the visitors scoreless in the second-half with a sensible kicking plan and committed defence.

The winning try was scored by first-five Dylan Jackson with about 20 minutes remaining. Silverstream was forced back to their own goal line where a ruck formed and the ball was parked stationary over the paint.

Jackson realized the ball was out of the ruck so he quickly zipped from behind a tangle of bodies and applied his hand to the ball, before Silverstream could clear. Jackson’s conversion was the last act of scoring.

At the outset, Silverstream enjoyed an obvious ascendancy in the lineouts. They were able to poach Rongotai possession and prop Mika Felix scored a soft pushover try to make it 5-0.

Silverstream hardly kicked, often guilty of being lateral, isolated and rushed on attack. This enabled Rongotai to camp inside the Stream half; Jackson’s opening penalty was slotted from 25-meters out and another chance rebounded off the right-hand upright.

Rongotai used the grubber kick especially effectively in the second spell; Silverstream often  forced to turnaround. Excluding a late bust by centre Roco Berry, Silverstream never looked liked overhauling the deficit.

The entire Rongotai pack deserve acclaim for their industry, but lock Bede Brown punched well above his weight and No.8 Joyner Gaualofa was devastating in the tackle.

Out wide halfback Trevall Tolova’a-Uele was a pivotal figure with his sabre kicks and sound judgment. Wing Tana Tusa was lively when involved and second-five Taupe Fa’avae was rock solid.

For Silverstream locks Marco Venter and Akira Ieremia were disruptive and loosehead Julius Masoe has enjoyed a consistent season.

Rongotai’s success is their first against Silverstream since 2016, but only their second in the Old Boys Cup since 2010. In the past two seasons Silverstream have won this fixture by a combined margin of 127-0. Overall Rongotai have celebrated 19 victories compared to Silverstream’s 38.

Rongtoai are currently on top of the Premiership standings, but could be passed by Scots College if they beat St Pats Town on Saturday. Silverstream can Finish no higher than third.

Conditions were drier but certainly no warmer at Porirua Park as Aotea College retained their Coed Cup crown by beating a gallant Upper Hutt College 32-22.

The Premier 2 side made the brighter start, and playing into the wind took an early lead through a penalty, but gradually Aotea’s dominant scrum and marauding midfielders Owen Wright and star Ropati So’oalo took charge. So’oalo scored the first try of the match following a break by Mati Matofai with prop Hanz Leota soon after adding a second, and probably should have had more points but for inaccuracies, ill-discipline, and a refusal to take a couple of handy penalty kicks.

The second half saw the scoring tempo increase as the game opened up. Wright grabbed a double to push the lead to 22-3, the second off a gorgeous grubber kick behind a rush defence by Matofai, before Upper Hutt crossed the whitewash through flanker Keenan Fincham. But from that point So’oalo took over, scoring his second with a 40m solo effort, and after a converted try by Upper Hutt fullback Kaisar Vailalo make it 27-15 threatened a grandstand finish So’oalo finished his hat-trick by plucking a turnover and then pushing off four defenders on his way to the line. Upper Hutt never gave up, and deservedly had the final say through winger Sifa Palu.

So’oalo and Wright were the obvious standouts for the winners, though Matofai constantly asked questions of the defence and hooker Caezar Leilua-Leota – who switched to prop early on – was a bustling presence. Fincham was Upper Hutt’s best with centre Pene To’o a handful when he got the ball, and prop Max Cottle made good yards in close.

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