King’s 63 – 25 Westlake Boys High School
On Saturday, the King’s College First XV played hosts to North Harbour Champions Westlake Boys High School in the final of the Blues Franchise competition to determine which school would represent the Blues Franchise at the Top Four Nationals in Palmerston North this weekend.
Following on from a very tough encounter against St Kent’s in the Auckland 1A Final the week before, this was always going to be a challenge and therefore our preparation for this game was as much mental as physical. Played in front of a good sized crowd on a firm track with a stiff westerly wind blowing straight down the ground, we won the toss and chose to play with the wind at our backs and endeavour to build up a good lead and then hold on to the ball in the second half playing into the wind.
As we have done on more than one occasion, we played down the right end of the field and moved the ball wide and then back again to stretch the Westlake defence. Not long into the game first five eighth Aidan Morgan crossed the line next to the posts and was able to convert his own try for a 7 – 0 lead. From the re-start, we returned down the Westlake end of the field and when their defence was offside at a ruck, Morgan converted the penalty from out in front of the posts to move the score out to 10 – 0. Things seemed to be going all our way and not long after, fullback Chicago Doyle scored out wide, but this time Morgan was unable to convert and we had moved out to a comfortable 15 – 0 lead. Just when we thought we had created a break, we fell off several tackles, Westlake made some good breaks and mirrored our scoring feats with two tries, one conversion and a penalty to tie the game up at 15-all. When centre Meihana Grindlay was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle, everyone thought that perhaps Westlake might make the most of their numerical advantage and get their noses in front, but our forwards stepped up, took control of the game and while he was in the sin bin, scored two well-taken forwards’ tries to replacement loose-forward Che Clark and senior lock James Brown to end the half 27 – 15 ahead on the scoreboard.
After the break, with Grindlay still in the bin, Westlake drew first blood with a well-taken try. However, we responded straight away with a great try scored by halfback Dayton Iobu. Westlake went tick for tack and scored again but their kicker was not able to convert either of these last two tries and that would be the end of their scoring in this knockout match. Several changes were made and young Year 10 future star Francis Manuleleua scored under the posts with his first touch of the ball. Morgan again converted then we started ripping up their defence from all over the field. A further four tries were scored by right winger Eric Vaafusuaga (2), Grindlay and Clark (his second) to end the match with a convincing 63 - 25 scoreline. The coaches were able to clear the bench and allow all the reserves to get some much-desired game time in our final home game for the season. Although our defence lapsed at times, to be fair, Westlake played well in the first half and proved that they were worthy finalists. As has been the case throughout the entire season, our superior fitness showed through in the closing stages of the match and Westlake were unable to maintain the pace they had showed in the first half and were eventually well-beaten.
We were delighted to add the Blues Franchise title for 2019 to our Auckland 1A title and now turn our focus and attention to travelling down to Palmerston North on Wednesday to prepare to play Nelson College in our semi-final of the National Top Four competition at 1.10pm on Friday afternoon. The game is televised live on Sky TV so for those who are unable to make it down to Palmerston North, you will be able to watch the game on Sky TV. Our sincere thanks to everyone for all the support we have received throughout the year.
King’s 7 – 21 Auckland Grammar
5A were the only King's team to make the finals this year apart from the First XV. The boys got to have an amazing experience getting to play on the showcase ground on Finals Day and put up a fantastic performance after a great season of rugby. Unfortunately the result didn't go King's way against Grammar, but everybody put everything into the season and can be very proud of their efforts.
King's were down 6-0 after two early penalties to Grammar, but hit back with a fantastic try to lead 7-6 with a few minutes left in the first half. The touch judge intervened in play just before the halftime whistle and inexplicably convinced the referee to award Grammar a penalty try despite King's having the ball and a very confused team and coach went into half time 13-7 down.
There was very little for the boys to do except put their heads down and the only score in the next 15 minutes was another penalty score to Grammar. King's had to throw caution to the wind and were unfortunately caught a bit off-guard on a counter-attack which resulted in the final 'nail in the coffin' score to Grammar to put them up 21-7. King's came back hard and were very unlucky to not get their own penalty try for the same, if not worse, transgression that gifted Grammar 7 points, but all was in vain as Grammar ran down the clock. A final score of 7-21 does not do justice to the closeness of the game, but sadly the season came to an end with a Final loss.
5A can be extremely proud of their efforts this year and they were a great team to coach.