- By Adam Julian
Update: there were also some knockout matches on Wednesday, and one more on Thursday in the Hurricanes Youth Council’s Life Members Cup (for Boys) and Rex Kerr Cup (for Girls) – see below for more.
For the first time in two decades Rongotai College have beaten Wellington College in consecutive years, winning Wednesday afternoon’s traditional First XV fixture 27-2o at home in drizzly conditions.
There were five lead tries and seven tries in an exciting game, which in reality Rongotai should have won by more but for a lack of discipline and poor finishing.
Wellington College opened the scoring when second five-eighth Tofuka Paongo crashed through as big hole and touched down under the posts. This try was converted by flyhalf Jacob Waikari-Jones.
Rongotai responded with a spectacular try when centre Pose Tulilaepa busted down the embankment touchline and beat multiple defenders in a 65-metre strike.
Wellington College were adept at winning breakdown turnovers, and took the lead at 10-7 with a penalty to halfback George Sims that was kicked from close to halfway.
The halftime score was 14-10 in favour of Rongotai, when busy and bruising No. 8 John Samuelu powered over the line after a surge ahead by openside flanker James Pese.
Rongotai’s scrum and lineout was dominant in the first half, but they lost two tries in the first half through incorrect tapping the ball.
In the second half Wellington College was the first to strike when Rongotai College failed to clear their 22 and a lineout drove strongly towards the line and then play switched back towards the other side and reserve outside back Caleb Stanley scored.
The Rongotai forwards, in particular all three loosies, Joyner Gaualofa, Pese and Samuelu, all ran powerfully and this pressure led to a penalty and to second five-eighth Enesi Tuilaepa scoring. Rongotai now led the contest 22-15.
Rongotai then scored their fourth to replacement hooker Jeshua Fretten, a length of the field effort that went through forwards and backs hands alike. This made it 27-15, with only a few minutes to play.
Wellington College gave themselves a glimmer of home when Waikari-Jones slipped through from close range after Rongotai failed to clear their own territory.
The game ended with a knock-on by Wellington College about 25 metres out from the line, and they were left lamenting their fourth loss in their opening five competition games and in sixth and in danger of falling further down the table after this coming Saturday’s games.
Wellington College’s best on the day included industrious halfback Sims, lock Bryn Jones who was especially disruptive on the Rongotai throw and Japanese prop Shin Kosaka.
Rongotai have now won four matches and have temporarily moved into third, ahead of St Pat’s Town.
Rongotai retained the Heron Cup, which goes back to 1988. Rongotai have now won this eight times in 32 years.
This Saturday’s First XV games coming up this Saturday:
In knock-out Cup fixtures played today, Wainuiomata High School (Wellington RFU), St. John’s College (Hawkes Bay RFU) and Manukura (Manawatu RFU) won Semi-Final berths in the Life Members Cup (for boys) and in the Rex Kerr Cup (for girls).
At Ongley Park in Palmerston North, Manukura trounced Feilding High School in a Quarter-Final match for the Rex Kerr Cup, by 64 points to nil. Following a special jersey presentation featuring Black Ferns Sevens Captain Sarah Hirini, Manukura were to secure a decisive victory over their local rivals and will now face Otaki Te Rāhui Kura (Horowhenua-Kapiti RFU) in one Cup Semi-Final.
The other Cup Semi-Final will be played between St. Mary’s College (Wellington RFU) and Hastings Girls High School (Hawkes Bay RFU) – (fixture details to be confirmed).