- By Adam Julian
A commanding first-half has earned Wairarapa College a sixth consecutive All Blacks Captain’s Trophy success.
Up 22-0 at the break, Wairarapa withstood a brave second-half fight back to topple hosts Hutt Valley High School, 39-19.
Wairarapa employed the greater size of their forwards with telling effect to construct what proved to be an unassailable lead.
Prop Ty Kahu Rangi was especially damaging as the visitors subdued an enthusiastic home crowd.
The first try was scored five minutes into the contest by prop Lipa Junior Lam Yuen. The loosehead barged through a smaller defender on the wing after Wairarapa hurried through the middle, before stretching to both touchlines.
Wairarapa second-five Dru Molesi is powerfully built and proved tough to contain. Often carrying defenders with him in contact, Molesi went over untouched on the right side to make it 10-0.
Hutt High really struggled in the lineouts with only one apparent jumper. Wairarapa winger Manaia Wislon was the third try scorer and the floodgates looked likely to open at 15-0.
Lock Lewis Houston and openside Tama Bartlett were full of bustle for the visitors and the latter would collect a Hutt High spillage and gallop 25-metres for the fourth try.
Hutt High came out a rejuvenated team after the interval. Stringing phases together for the first time, second-five Loketi Afu was able to break twice over the course of 30-meters; the latter of those surges leading to a try.
Openside Nathan Fa’atagi produced a herculean display for the runners up. Swift, precise and strong over the ball, Fa’atagi carries combatively for his diminutive size and profied with a deserved try from an overlap to reduce the deficit to 22-12.
First-five Richard Evans grew in stature, illusive when taking the ball to the line and using his footwork and acceleration to break.
Had Fa’atagi grasped a near intercept, ten-meters shy of the Wairarapa line, with about 15 minutes remaining, the climax could have been very interesting.
It would be a tighthead that would seal Hutt High’s fate. Poaching the ball at halfway, Wairarapa scored through Cademan Hawkins to reach a comfort zone again.
Hawkins had an excellent match and would complete a pair after a Dane Coles like break from hooker Thomas Inness.
Evans’ final try for Hutt High was greeted with loud cheering, squirming through a tangle of three tacklers like a squid avading coral.
On the first day, Wairarapa were convincing 57-5 victors over Dannevirke High School. Dannevirke started encouragingly, but no decisive break was made.
Soon Wairarapa used their heavier and fitter forwards to made inroads and managed to cross for five tries before halftime to lead 31-0 at the interval.
Despite emptying the bench, Wairarapa was able to continue the momentum and cross the chalk a further four times in the second-half. Dannevirke scored their solitary try near the end.
Wairarapa’s second-five Dru Moles powered over twice and was possibly the standout. First-five Eric Bargh and wings Pierre Jacobs and Manaia Wilson were pacy and each earned a place on the scoresheet. Halfback Alesana Malata dotted down as well celebrating a productive two days
Hutt Valley High School made hard work of their 27-14 victory over a stubborn Paraparaumu College.
Hutt High totally controlled the first-half, scoring three tries and bombing at least two, in jumping to a 15-0 advantage.
Hutt High stretched to both touchlines and Afu was able to barge over in the corner to make it 5-0.
Evans doubled the lead when he crossed on the opposite side following concerted attack in front of the embankment seating.
Lock Ian Reupena took the direct route to the paint, busting through congestion handy to the posts.
Halftime was a welcome relief for Paraparamu and an inspired run by captain and No.8 Ari Hartmann sparked an attack that was finished by first-five Matthew Campbell.
Tragically the influential Hartmann was hauled off the field with an ankle injury as Hutt High regained control. Two breaks by Evans, and some calamity at the back, enabled the sturdy Afu to profit with a double; Hutt High was now ahead 20-7.
Hutt High’s error rate mounted as Paraparamu hustled bravely. Fullback Knox Tuinasau had an eventful afternoon and when he showed searing pace to set up centre Darren Falaniko a potentially tight climax loomed.
Evans has enjoyed a very strong season though and, on the back of consecutive Paraparaumu penalties, was able to step through and complete his brace on fulltime.
Fa’atagi was exceptional stealing multiple turnovers and carrying with gusto for Hutt High.
In the playoff for third, Paraparaumu defeated Dannevirke 21-7. The spectacle was not at all flash, but Paraparaumu were decisive winners crossing for all of their tries in the first spell.
Hooker George Dougall, Falaniko and Tuinasau were the try scorers. Dannevirke centre Primo McLaren was sent off, but halfback Malcom Johnson was sprightly and capable and No.8 Toby Christini industrious.
This tournament has been running for 44 years and was played in pleasant spring sunshine and tremendous spirit. The traditions must be strongly defended and maintained. However all the participants face significant challenges assembling a competitive First XV each week.
Hutt High are coached by Rugby Site originator Warren Bradshaw and Brent Little. The pair are accomplished mentors, but tragically have little cattle to work with. High High has a roll of 1800 students, but only two teams, with the next team beneath the First XV an Under 55kg side.
Danniverike has a school roll of 500 students and enjoyed an increase of one team to three. They were fourth in the Manawatu First XV competition which consists of eight sides, but were subject to defaults. Prior to the tourney they played a local Under 23 combination and lost two players to a broken arm and concussion.
Paraparaumu has four boys and a single girls team, though the girls saw little action in 2019. Paraparaumu replaced Horowhenua College who were unable to find the number to compete as they have done in previous seasons.
Wairarapa, a Premiership school since 2015, have the healthiest numbers with six teams. However their Second XV attempted to leave the local competition in favour of the Manawatu series because of a lack of organization and competition.
1st XV All Blacks Captain’s Trophy Previous Winners
1975: Wairarapa College
1976: Hutt Valley High School
1977: Wairarapa College
1978: Horowhenua College
1980: Hutt Valley High School
1982: Hutt Valley High School
1983: Horowhenua College
1984: Horowhenua College
1985: Horowhenua College
1986: Wairarapa College
1987: Hutt Valley High School
1988: Hutt Valley High School
1989: Hutt Valley High School/Wairarapa College
1990: Dannevirke High School/Wairarapa College
1991: Hutt Valley High School
1992: Wairarapa College
1993: Dannevirke High School
1994: Wairarapa High School
1995: Dannevirke High School
1996: Hutt Valley High School
1997: Dannevirke High School
1998: Wairarapa College
1999: Wairarapa College
2000: Wairarapa College
2001: Wairarapa College
2002: Hutt Valley High School
2003: Hutt Valley High School
2004: Hutt Valley High School
2005: Dannevirke High School
2006: Wairarapa College
2007: Hutt Valley High School
2008: Hutt Valley High School
2009: Dannevirke High School
2010: Dannevirke High School
2011: Wairarapa College
2012: Hutt Valley High School
2013: Hutt Valley High School
2014: Wairarapa College
2015: Wairarapa College
2016: Wairarapa College
2017: Wairarapa College
2018: Wairarapa College
2019: Wairarapa College