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South Island stoush in Quad final

  • By Adam Julian, in Nelson

The Crusaders bombed in Super Rugby Pacific, but in schoolboy rugby, the Crusaders regional competition is unquestionably stronger than that of the Hurricanes-based Wellington and CNI competitions.

The ‘Quad final will be between Nelson College and Christ’s College after the two South Island schools eased to victories against their North Island, Hurricanes opponents this afternoon in Nelson.

Nelson College: 47 v Wellington College: 0

It was as one-sided as the scoreline suggested. Nelson College steamrolled Wellington College 47-0 to underscore its credentials as perhaps the South Island’s premier First XV in 2024.

Wellington didn’t even look like scoring against a Nelson side that balanced size, structure and flair.

Particularly eye-catching was the reliability and variety of Nelson’s lineout and the brutality and precision of their breakdown cleanouts which allowed experienced halves paring Oliver Gibbons and Harrison Inch to run amok.

Harrison used every Inch of the pitch with his sweeping passes a delightful antidote to the one pass, crash, bash, smash, thump, boom, bang of the boring Blues.

It was 26-0 at halftime and the hosts didn’t lose momentum when the reserves were rolled out earlier than anticipated.

The individual standouts for Nelson were tighthead prop Samuela Takapu and blindside flanker Saumaki Saumaki. Each had a double by halftime as their raw power, and Nelson’s creativity, left Wellington grappling at fresh air. To quote the 12th man, Saumaki Saumaki has more muscles than a seafood buffet. A Rio Kosaka stop in the second half was easily the most heroic rearguard on an otherwise abject afternoon for the tourists.

Nelson midfielders Jimmy West and Fanua Fa’avae proved a colossal combination. Both busted the line at will and each was rewarded with a try.

Nelson lock Tom Perkins and openside Kobe Brownlee were pillars of a lineout that was so efficient today that professional outfits would be envious.

Adding insult to injury for Wellington was a large and boisterous home crowd equipped with a chainsaw, old boys merchandise, thunder sticks (those blow-up things fans used to bash hysterically at the netball), face paint, body paint and some quality banter that might have even solicited a laugh out of earnest refereeing legend David Walsh who was in attendance.

Nelson matched their 47-0 whitewash of Wellington College in 2018, achieving a record victory against their oldest rivals. Nelson and Wellington played the first officially recorded college match in New Zealand in 1876. In the ‘Quad’ Nelson and Wellington have played each other 70 times with Nelson achieving 28 victories.

It would be a gargantuan surprise if Nelson doesn’t win Thursday’s final by plenty against Christ’s College. Christ’s are a respectable 4-1 in the Crusaders competition, but looked decidedly average in their 31-10 win against Whanganui Collegiate who are winless in the Central North Island competition.

Whanganui was plucky in the first half and turned with a 10-7 advantage. Second-five Jonathan Solomona scored a try that showcased brute strength and first-five Noah Ioasa kicked a conversion and a penalty. Noah is the son of genial coach and former All Blacks Sevens representative Tafai Ioasa.

Christ’s coaching staff consists of two former All Blacks Sam Broomhall and Reuben Thorne, plus Old Boys University Jubilee Cup winner Sam Chamberlain. The black and white hoops resoundingly responded to a halftime serve by scoring 24 unanswered second-half point points.

Fullback Felix Huston bagged a hat-trick and the forward pack cast an anchor in Whanganui territory. The front row of Jake Leck, Tom Rawstron and Zinzan Bondarenko-Leatua were sturdy.

Finals Day Thursday

10:30 am: Wellington College v Whanganui Collegiate

Noon: Nelson College v Christ’s College

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