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Wellington College win St Pat’s Town Traditional and competition opener

Wellington College after their win over St Pat’s Town, their 82nd win in this match that started in 1885. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

  • By Steven White & Ian Knightly

Update: Match highlights below:

Wellington College have opened the 2022 Wellington First XV Premier One season with a 29-21 win over St Pat’s Town in sunny conditions at home this afternoon.

In the 137th traditional between the two schools, Wellington College retained the Centennial Shield with a five tries to three win, with No. 8 Jack Riley scoring two tries.

Wellington College won the game in the last 10 minutes, dotting down twice to reel in a four-point deficit and also denying St Pat’s Town a bonus point.

Trailing 21-17 after just conceding a try to St Pat’s Town, Wellington College took the lead with a try in the driveway corner, to openside flanker Angus Miller.

The decisive winning try a few minutes from fulltime fittingly involved two of Wellington College’s best two players of the day , first five Stanley Solomon and No. 8 Riley. From a turnover in midfield, Solomon produced a raking kick into the terraces corner that set Town back on their heels. They subsequently won a penalty and attacked with their own lineout in the same corner. The lineout was knocked on by Town and Wellington College launched an attack off a  scrum. Them Riley went over for the try in front of his rapturous schoolmates on the terraces.

Wellington College players celebrate on fulltime. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

The lead had changed twice earlier in the second half. St Pat’s Town led 14-7 at halftime, but Wellington College would soon claim the ascendency. They opened the second half scoring with a lineout on the 22 and then by going wide to right wing Finlay Hagen to touch down and equalise.

Wellington College then took the lead after fullback Sam Meo made a searing break up into St Pat’s territory. Town defended, but a lineout error handed Wellington College possession in a prime position. They packed down a scrum in the middle of the field and first five Solomon sent a perfectly weighted cross-kick  across to left wing Joshua Semu who scored to give Wellington College the lead for the first time.

The lead was short-lived, Town building momentum, and after a period of patient phase play, No. 8 Jeremiah Collins offloaded close to the line to centre Jack Sua who scored to put Town back in the lead and to set up the thrilling last 10 minutes.

Earlier, Town drew first blood when hooker Solomona Vaka peeled off to the blindside from a lineout drive and put left wing Aethan Tuisala in for the game’s first try. First five Dallas Natoli kicked the conversion from a wide out position to put them up 7-0.

St Pat’s Town score the first try, from a lineout drive at close quarters. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

Much of the first half was a stop-start affair, which continued into the second half, and there were two sin-binnings. Wellington College hooker Tauvaga Siolo and Town second five Francis Mettrick were both yellow carded for separate incidents.

In the 23rd minute, with Siolo still in the bin, Mettrick was sinbinned, and Wellington College soon capitalised, No. 8 Riley scoring his first try between the posts. Solomon converted to make it 7-7.

Town struck back with a fantastic individual try to loosehead prop Sulesa Seumanufagai. Natoli’s conversion put them up 14-7.

Just prior to half time, Wellington College spent the best part of three minutes hot on attack and could have and should have scored at least twice. The closest they came was when right wing Hagen spilt the ball over the line. It didn’t matter, however, as they came back in the second half to win.

Town were left rueing a high error rate and a set-piece that started well but fell away in the second half. Try scorer Seumanufagai, hooker Solomona Vaka, blindside flanker Ronnie Sofeni, lock Ben Higgs and No. 8 Jeremiah Collins all had their moments.

Elsewhere, Napier Boys’ High School beat Scots College 33-17, after opening up a 26-3 lead earlier in the match.

St Pat’s Town – Wellington college last five Traditional meetings

2018: St Pat’s Town 31-26

2019: St Pat’s Town 22-17

2020: St Pat’s Town 39-19

2021: Wellington College 31-18

2022: Wellington College 29-21


Played 137

Wellington College wins: 82

St Pat’s Town wins: 47

Draws: 8

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