King’s 29 – 22 Saint Kentigern College
It was fantastic to return to Eden Park again this year to try to erase the disappointment of losing the final last year. We felt the fact that 12 of our team had played in the final at Eden Park last year gave us a psychological advantage at the start of the match because playing on the hallowed Eden Park can be quite daunting the first time you get the opportunity. They say you have to lose a final before you win one and maybe that was a good mantra for us, as all week we had been drumming into the boys that they probably did not want to experience the same pain and disappointment that they did twelve months earlier. All week the coaches had tried to keep the same routines that we had maintained all season and also tried to keep the boys calm and collected.
The last time King’s College was Auckland 1A Champion was back in 2005 and the Coaches were Jim Dickin and Mark Kennelly. One of the players in that successful team was Tim Southee who has gone on to become one of New Zealand’s most successful cricket bowlers. Tim is currently in Sri Lanka with the Black Caps and took the time to send Mark Kennelly a text message from Sri Lanka wishing our First XV all the best for the final, which Mark read out to the team before the match.
Eden Park is a fantastic surface to play on, no matter what the weather or what time of the year. Yesterday the sun was shining but there was a strong north-westerly wind blowing down the ground. Our preference if we won the toss, was to take the wind and try to build up a big lead with the wind at our backs, trusting our defence in the second half to see us through the match. It would be fair to say that this game was a game of two halves where we were able to build up a good lead by halftime (29 – 5) and then hold on and ride out the storm as St Kent’s came back in the second half. When the final whistle blew, the final score was 29 – 22; the difference was the boot of Aidan Morgan as both teams scored four tries each. Aidan only missed one conversion whilst the St Kent’s kicker was only able to convert one of their four tries.
First five-eighth Aidan Morgan had another stand-out game and was in fact, awarded his 3rd Player-of-the-Day award from the four televised matches we have played in this year. Aidan scored the first try and kicked three conversions and a penalty goal for a personal tally of 14 points. The other three first-half tries were scored by halfback Dayton Iobu, tighthead prop Israel Otunuku and centre Meihana Grindlay. It is quite common to see teams that have made a final, change their whole style of play and will play not to lose the match, rather than play to win the match. Given our halftime lead, I think most people thought that we would kick-on and win the game comfortably, but it almost looked like our boys were simply trying to shut down the game and rely on our 24 point halftime lead being enough to see us through the match. As it panned out, St Kent’s threw everything at us in the second half and despite our best efforts, we were unable to add to our halftime score and spent the final 10 minutes having to defend our goal-line as we had done in our previous two tough wins against KBHS and AGS. When the final whistle blew, it was quite amazing to see the reserves sprint onto the field and join the rest of the team who had all sprinted across to all our supporters in the grandstand. This showed how much everybody’s support meant to us all. Throughout the season we have been so well supported by students, staff, families and friends and our players are very grateful for all the support we have been shown.
It was wonderful to see our players line up to receive their winners’ medals and the 1A Championship Cup. There was also an added bonus in that the coveted Moascar Cup was also on the line and we were delighted to also receive this cup that we had not held since 1998. There is a very special story about this cup and the history around it and we are delighted to also have this trophy to present to The Headmaster, along with the 1A Championship Cup at Assembly on Wednesday. This Saturday we play host to Westlake BHS who are the North Harbour Champions, in the Blues Franchise final at 2.30pm and it would be great to have another big crowd to come out and support the team for our final home match of the 2019 season. If we are successful, we will travel to Palmerston North the following week as the Blues Franchise representative school at the Top Four National Championship. But firstly – one game at a time and we have already turned our focus towards this must win match against Westlake BHS here on our No 1 field next Saturday.
King's 3 – 18 Sacred Heart
The King’s 1R side headed into our semi-final against the same opposition as the previous week, Sacred Heart. After going down to them twice already in the season, we were hungry and determined to get the win in the semi.
With a gusting wind behind us in the first half we opened up with some real confidence, defending what Sacred threw at us with our new defensive pattern of outside to in working to perfection. Both sides had numerous opportunities to strike first but some poor handling and us getting a little too eager in attack meant we couldn’t get over the line. A penalty late in the half to Caide Davis gave us the narrow lead of 3 nil at the break.
With newfound confidence in us we believed that we could upset the hosts and grab the win. We headed into the second half knowing what had to be done. However, we were pinned early in our 22, giving away 3 points to Sacred to tie the game up. Our momentum had been broken as Sacred marched down field putting us under pressure. We eventually cracked letting in a dubious try. However, we were still determined to get back in the game.
But going against a strong wind and a determined Sacred Heart side we struggled to gain any traction back into the game. The boys never gave up however playing some real hot potato footy as we had our chances to get back in the game. But just when we had a chance a pass went to deck that was scooped up by the Sacred 13 who ran 50 metres to extend their lead.
Another late try to the hosts put us down 18-3 when the final whistle went. The score however wasn’t a true reflection of the game as we were in it throughout the match. The result however ends our season, not the way we wanted to go out, but the boys can hold their heads high. They played outstandingly all year in the new under 85kg grade, and can take a lot away from the season. We wish them all the very best as they move forward.
King’s 10 – 6 Sacred Heart
5A welcomed Sacred Heart to King's on Saturday for a semi-final and the opportunity to play Auckland Grammar in the final next week. King's had seen off Sacred 14-0 in the round robin phase of the competition but were under no illusions of the challenge that knockout rugby presents to the underdog.
King’s started brightly enough, but were unable to convert early pressure into any points and it was disappointing when Sacred scored a penalty from their first foray into King's territory.
King's struck once in the first half through Ferg McLeay and lead 5-3 at the halfway point. A good calming chat at half time and King's came out firing to score an excellent try through Tim Jones and lead 10-3.
Sacred had numerous chances to put points on the board, but the defence was resolute and calm and Sacred could find no more than another penalty score through the second half.
A great season continues for 5A and they are the only King's team through to the finals day next weekend. Anything is possible at this point and King's will hope to turn the tables on Grammar after losing to them in the round robin.
King’s 12 – 19 Rosehill College
King’s lost their unbeaten run on Saturday against a strong Rosehill College team.
A very tight game which saw Rosehill score to make it 5-0 then King’s responded to make it 5-5 all at half time. Second half saw Rosehill score again to make it 12-5, it was then King’s for the next 15 minutes with an excellent try to make it 12-12. King’s had numerous opportunities to score again but wrong choices and a strong defence held them out.
Rosehill’s number nine scored the winner with 5 minutes to go which was converted to make it 19-12. King’s tried to rally late but it was not to be. A fantastic season with a 10 from 10 unbeaten run is something to be proud of in 2019.
King’s 7 – 49 Auckland Grammar