- By Adam Julian
Three school matches at Porirua Park on Wednesday, with St Mary’s College playing MANUKURA, followed by the Wellington Girls Division 2 final between Naenae College and Bishop Viard College and the Wellington Boys Co-Ed Cup final between Upper Hutt College and and Bishop Viard. Accounts of these games are below.
MANUKURA take down Wellington Champs
MANUKURA rallied from a 10-0 deficit to topple Wellington Champions, St Mary’s College 29-15 in the first round of the Rex Kerr Cup Hurricanes Secondary Schools quadrangular series.
The other fixture between Hastings Girls’ High School and Feilding High School didn’t happen because of a default by Hastings.
Each school is scheduled to play each other once with the top two qualifying for the final. The winner of the final makes the National Top Four Tournament in Palmerston North in September.
The game was played in blustery, chilly, conditions at Porirua Park No.2. The main field was completely vacant for some reason?
St Mary’s started with patience, precision and passion. They were able to construct multiple phases, stretch the visitors to both sidelines, and make the first breakthrough when left wing Hera Maihi crossed in the corner.
A three-women skip pass by No. 8 Vonzell Tusa was influential in the creation of space. The conversion from the embankment touch by first-five Arene Landon-Lane made it 7-0.
St Mary’s continued to press hard, MANUKURA holding firm until a penalty directly in front 15-metres out saw Landon-Lane chip over a goal for a 10-0 advantage.
What changed? MANUKURA became more clinical at the breakdown, stifling the momentum of the big, one-out, St Mary’s ball runners. The swirling wind necessitated the control of territory, MANUKURA gaining that prize with some intelligent kicking, especially from halfback Maia Davis.
MANUKURA centre Hope Stanshall scored the visitors first try when she received a cut-out pass from first-five Mia Maraku and dashed clear.
MANUKURA was level by halftime when lock Anyis Drossearts-Lake squirted a pass in the presence of three to flying winger Leiana Marshall-Barton.
St Mary’s struggled to exit their own half for most of the second-spell. Bold attempts to run from deep often resulted in error.
MANUKURA took the lead with about 20 minutes remaining when speedy reserve Prayer Playle collected a spill and raced 30-metres free. The conversion by Mia Maraku made it 17-10.
Openside Alizay Grant and No.8 Pounamu Wharehinga were most studious in their toil. Drossearts-Lake was the main supply of lineout possession, and the MANUKURA reserves were fitter than their counterparts.
Stanshall was a consistent threat and when Playle nabbed a second, MANUKURA was home and hosed at 29-10.
To their credit St Mary’s found some fight at the end and Penese had the last say when she burrowed over from a quick tap. Fellow prop Indiana Russell-Lia hit like a freight train, No.8 Vonzell Tusa often made headway, and halfback Daisy Rangiwhetu and Landon -Lane combined well on occasion, though they didn’t judge the conditions as well as their rivals.
Upper Hutt Co-Ed Cup Kings
Upper Hutt College (with some Heretaunga College players) won the Co-Ed Cup for the first time since 2014 with a 27-14 victory over Bishop Viard College.
In an often tight struggle dominated by heavy collisions in the middle of the park and a hefty penalty count, Upper Hutt was more polished than their gritty rivals whose stacked blindside attack made little headway throughout.
In the fourth minute Upper Hutt charged down a clearance from Bishop Viard inside their 22. A dart by energetic halfback Savant Eruera had Bishop Viard splintered and centre Layton Hillman-Hohua pounced. The conversion by second-five Flyn ‘captain’ Morgan had Upper Hutt ahead 7-0.
Morgan was a real renaissance man. In addition to his robust running and tackling he threw the ball into the lineout with presence and led with maturity and intelligence.
Bishop Viard first-five Mannfred Sofara is the leading points scorer in all Premier rugby in 2022. His boot opened Bishop Viard’s account from 40-metres. A penalty to Morgan in the 25th minute restored a seven-point lead for Upper Hutt.
A pivotal moment occurred with the last play of the first-half. An apparently scuffed cross-kick by Upper Hutt first-five Tawhi Mahuri-Tukukino bounced perfectly for right wing Brontyn Jane and Upper Hutt had an unlikely second try. A sideline conversion made the halftime score 17-3.
Sofara was on target with two penalties after the break for Bishop Viard as Upper Hutt’s discipline lapsed and they lost a player to the sin bin.
Bishop Viard failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage and instead Morgan slotted his second penalty to make it 20-9.
With ten minutes remaining an intercept and 50-metre breakout Hillman-Hohua sank Bishop Viard spirits. Upper Hutt camped inside the 22 and lock Zion Chalmers-Miller muscled over beside the posts. Chalmers-Miller stole at least three lineouts and was perhaps the pick of the Upper Hutt forwards alongside bruising loosehead prop Jade Langi.
Bishop Viard had the last say with a rolling maul try on full time.
Naenae Race Away With Premier II Title
Naenae College trounced Bishop Viard College 51-10 in a dozen aside, hour-long, Premier II decider.
Naenae won the trophy for the first time and impressed with their speed and willingness to spread the ball to the flanks.
Naenae flashed to a 19-0 lead within 10 minutes before a most bizarre interruption. A stray dog scampered freely around Jerry Collins Stadium, jumping enthusiastically on several players and evading the referee, spectators, and College Sport Wellington’s David Fa’atafa whose pedometer almost exploded in pursuit of the feral canine.
When the game resumed, Naenae didn’t lose concentration or ruthlessness finishing with nine ties and three conversions.
Mahinarangi Thompson scored the first two tries, her second a showcase of searing pace from 80-metres.
Huliana Fanau was a powerhouse in the middle of the park while Serina Tautau and Masua Lena proved elusive and each scored tries.
Bishop Viard wasn’t entirely absent of bravery and brilliance. Their tries were scored by Teroa Sooalo and May Magalogo whose catch low to the ground and spear over resulted in a huge cheer from the crowd.
HIBS Stun Wellington College
The most eye-catching result in college rugby in the last week was Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS) 10-8 triumph over Wellington College. The only previous victory HIBS have enjoyed against Wellington was 6-5 in 2014. With a win Wellington could have gone to the top of the table.
Halfback Harry Wall is the captain of HIBS. He said the entire school is “stoked with the result.”
The first-half was a tight tussle with HIBS enjoying a greater share of possession and twice dropping the ball over the line. It was scoreless at halftime, as it was in 2014.
Wellington struck initially in the second-half to establish a 5-0 lead. HIBS caught a lucky break when a chip kick was deflected and gathered by second-five Floyd Rose who sprinted 40-metres clear to tie the score.
Wellington reclaimed the lead with a penalty, but HIBS remained composed and aggressive.
“For the next 20 minutes we had a couple of chances but didn’t convert,” Wall said.
“With ten minutes to go, they conceded a penalty inside the 22. We kicked to the corner and mauled. One of our players then went off the back and passed inside to lock Jed Machirus who scored. That put us up 10-8. We had a huge celebration after that try.”
Wellington was flustered, HIBS controlling territory. The last turnover of the match happened just outside the Wellington 22.
“We’re underdogs going into the Town game, but we had a plan to shut down Wellington and it worked. We’ve got a lot of belief after that result,” Wall warned.
HIBS have had four wins this season, their best effort in Premier I.
St Bernard’s Fourth Heading Into Last Round of Premiership
St Bernard’s College stayed in fourth place with a 29-12 victory over Wairarapa College last Saturday. St Bernard’s led 17-0 in as many minutes.
A form slump then saw the hosts fail to score for nearly 40 minutes before some smart tactical kicking to the northern corner saw more pressure piled on a gallant Wairarapa.
Standouts in the game for St Bernard’s included diminutive fullback Dom Ernst who scored a try as did blindside Andy Soanai. Wairarapa tighthead prop Lipa Lam scored a try and carried with real might.
St Bernard’s last won the Premiership in 2001. Present coach Nick Risdon was halfback.
Three-time defending champions Scots College are seventh out of nine teams heading into the final round of the Premiership this Saturday, but could finish fourth if they beat St Bernard’s College, pending other results. A full preview of the final round of the Premiership will be available in Friday’s Club Rugby Weekend Review.
Huddy Sports chatted with SBC fullback Dom Ernst on Wednesday night – click the link above to watch this.