2nd XV 54 - 0 Wesley College
The 2nd XV saved the best for last on a glorious day playing on King's No.1 field.
After some very close losses this year, confidence and belief have been the biggest challenges for the team.
Starting with the ball in hand and an attacking mindset, Zion Savaka (Year 11, Peart) took the early points to take a 3-0 lead. Shortly after, Levi Saipele (Year 12, Marsden) and Bailey Harris (Year 12, St John’s) both crossed for tries, and you could see the confidence growing through the team as a very weak Wesley side had no answer. King's were up 22-0 at halftime. Year 13 prop Daniel McCarthy-Pulotu (Year 13, Parnell), in his last game for the College, crossed for a try, and the team gave him a good send-off with some fine attacking running.
If only we had seen a glimpse of that belief and skill in some of the closer and harder games during the season, I am sure the final position in the standings of 8th would be a lot higher.
Compliments to the team for finishing the season on a high as we now move into House Sevens and the Sevens season.
King's 1R 16 - 5 Auckland Grammar
The last time we played AGS was a pre-season game here at King's, where they were deserved 14–0 winners. Following our heavy defeat to SHC last weekend, the challenge was to get the boys back up and playing to the potential that we have shown at times all season, but not consistently reached.
Our preparation throughout the week went well, starting with a debrief meeting at lunchtime on Monday, where everyone had an opportunity to contribute to a discussion about what went wrong against SHC and what we needed to do to beat AGS on Saturday. On Tuesday, some players were absent due to illness or injuries sustained in the SHC game. However, Thursday's training went extremely well, as 1st XV backs coach Kevin Putt kindly agreed to come out and run the backs for an hour, while I worked with the forward pack.
The equation from this match was a very simple one: win the match and we would play AGS again, but at home next Saturday, or lose, and we would have to return to AGS again for the semi-final.
Saturday came and the weather played its part, although we had a few showers just before kickoff. It was very odd that we played on the AGS #2 field when the immaculate #1 was free. The field was covered in sand and full of pot holes. However, we put that aside and I asked the boys to put together a 70-minute performance for the first time this season, and I can proudly say that when the full-time whistle had blown, that was indeed what the boys had managed to do for the very first time this season.
The first half was an arm wrestle and a dour affair with neither team giving an inch. We had one kickable penalty shot in the first half and, as he has done all season, centre and vice-captain Louie Ballan (Year 13, Parnell) slotted the goal for a halftime lead of 3–0.
I could sense that Grammar was starting to tire as they had defended for most of the first half, and it is no secret that it is way harder to defend than to have possession of the ball. The second half started the same way the first had ended, and AGS managed to score a try from a 5-meter lineout, but their kicker was unable to convert. This only seemed to fire our boys up, and we started raiding deep into their territory and holding onto the ball for multiple phases.
From a rolling maul close to their line, one of their players pulled it down and the referee did not hesitate to blow a penalty try for us and a yellow card for the player that pulled down the maul. Up 10–5, we went straight back onto attack and, although we came very close to scoring another try on a couple of occasions, our relentless pressure and sound defence saw us awarded two more kickable penalties, which Ballan converted and we ended up deservedly winning the match 16–5. This win has assured us of a home semi-final next Saturday against the same opposition, but on our cherished #1 field.
We will not be taking anything for granted and, if anything, will be lifting the intensity of our trainings this week as we head into the knockout phase of the competition.
King's U15A 15 - 17 Auckland Grammar
King's U15A traveled to Auckland Grammar knowing that both teams had similar results throughout the season and that it would be a close game. Winter illness had again affected numbers for training, but the team turned up early and were looking forward to the battle ahead.
King's started well and after 6 minutes, Calvin Harris-Tavita (Year 10, Parnell) kicked a penalty for King's to take an early lead. Grammar would score the only other points of the first half with a try in the corner from what looked like a shepherd play, however the try was awarded, and Grammar went into halftime leading 5-3. In the first half, our determined defense kept us in the game.
King's again started the second half well. Bassy Tupou (Year 10, Marsden) would win a nice lineout, and King's forwards would drive over for Charlie Burn (Year 11, School) to score and King's to retake the lead. Unfortunately, King's were not getting any of the 50:50 calls, and again we were on the wrong side of a high penalty count. Grammar would score two further tries. King's knew we had to score next, and again Charlie Burn looked to have scored his second try, however the linesman said he knocked on. Not long after, King's would get a penalty of our own, and a quick tap from Ruka Smythe (Year 10, Parnell) to Calvin Harris-Tavita, who would put a nice cross kick to Leewes Natana-Hemara (Year 9, St John’s), who would catch and score out wide. Calvin Harris-Tavita would add the conversion. With time almost up, King's knew the importance of winning the kick off, however Grammar regained the ball and kicked it out to win a close game 17-15.
Upfront, Bassy Tupou was great in the lineouts and was well supported by Charlie Burn, Loghan Pulotu-McCarthy, Christopher Hatch (Year 10, Major), Max Gilbert (Year 10, Selwyn), Wyatt Empson (Year 10, St John’s), Jamie Ludbrook (Year 10, St John’s), Rodney Winiata (Year 10, Parnell), and Gus Iversen (Year 10, Major), to name a few. In the backs, Ruka Smythe, Calvin Harris-Tavita, Saia Manu (Year 11, Averill), Parekaahu Keepa (Year 10, Parnell), Leewes Natana-Hemara, Felix Spary (Year 10, Selwyn), and Noah Moss (Year 9, Parnell) all played well. As a coach, you can only ask your players to give it their all, and they did. The team's effort could not be questioned, especially given the challenges they faced throughout the game.
The team will now regroup with a team meal on Tuesday and then back to the grind on Thursday to try and defend our Lindisfarne U15 Tournament title at the end of the month.
King's 6A 28 - 0 Botany Downs (WBD Score)
Last week, my first sentence was, "At heart, rugby is a very simple game." I still stand by that. But when you have the new "Game On" trial, where one team has 24 players and the other has 13, and you have to agree before the game that it's a Win By Default (WBD) which is 28-0, then you have to decide which numbers you play with, in this case 13 vs 13.
So, after all the pre-match toing and froing, the referee blew the whistle and we got started. After all, all the boys want to do is play rugby. And it was a great game. Botany Downs (BD) spent the first 10 minutes on attack. They ran strongly, but Carter Stewart (Year 10, School) and Charlie Robertson (Year 10, School) did some excellent jackling and tackling to keep them at bay. However, eventually, the pressure told and they went over in the corner for the first try.
This seemed to result in a global rebalancing, as the next 20 minutes were all King's in the BD half. The good ruck work from last week continued, and Rafe Parore (Year 10, St John’s) rose from his sick bed to deliver excellent service to the backs. Kasey Lewis (Year 10, Greenbank), Archie Kennedy (Year 11, St John’s), and James Shaw (Year 10, School) all made strong runs, but a try was proving elusive.
Finally, the breakthrough came. Josh Want (Year 10, Major) made another scintillating run and was over the line. The next try was the try of the season, if you ask Sam Coulter (Year 10, Averill). He scored it. He got the ball in the 22 and nothing, simply nothing, was going to stop him crashing over. He was just a little excited. Finn Jones (Year 10, Parnell) added the extra 2 points.
Half-Time: King's 12 - 7 Botany Downs
There were more half-time changes than a clothes shop fitting room. We started with 14 vs. 14. The new introductions, yes BD found 2 players, quickly made their mark. An excellent kick and chase by BD resulted in a try. There followed a second try to BD as some poor tackling by King's allowed BD to score under the posts. Suddenly it was 21 to 12 and Kings were looking a little frazzled.
The clock was ticking down, and from a scrum, Kasey Lewis adopted the raging bull approach and crashed over under the sticks. With time just about up, Toby Willis (Year 9, Selwyn) was inches from scoring what would have been an excellent team try. However, there was a penalty, and Kasey Lewis never looked like missing a difficult penalty from his wrong side on the 15-metre line.
There was one final play, but King's won the ball and kicked it out to touch. As it stands, we are not sure if we have made the semi-finals. I am sure that boys do like playing rugby. Let's make it simple!
Tries: Josh Want, Kasey Lewis, Sam Coulter. Conversions: Finn Jones x2. Penalty: Kasey Lewis. Player of the Day: The Team
King's U14A 22 - 40 Liston College
King's was hard on defense immediately from kick-off against a spirited Liston side who struck first on Saturday's clash of the bottom of the table dwellers. A period of sustained attack in Liston's 22 ensued from restart of play where some great attacking play was constructed by King's. A quick tap off a penalty by first five Cale Ngatai (Year 9, Parnell) was passed to ranging flanker Finn Thompson (Year 9, Marsden), who broke one tackle and eluded another to offload a pass to fullback Ollie Anderson (Year 9, Greenbank). Anderson fended off the last line of defense while feeding center Ricoh Wilson (Year 9, Greenbank) to score an unconverted try in the right corner.
Liston attacked immediately from the restart but lost the ball forward 5 meteres out from our try line. Halfback Oscar Holt (Year 9, Parnell) delivered a quick pass from the base of this scrum to second five-eight George Chu Lin (Year 9, Averill), who drew the first defender and passed to center Ricoh Wilson. Wilson stepped his tackler and passed outside to Ngatai, who distributed a flat pass to fullback Ollie Anderson at full pace. Anderson raced downfield to score between the posts. Ngatai converted the try.
Off the back of some enterprising play from an attacking lineout and a high tackle on hooker Jude Brem (Year 9, School), number 8 Reid Thompson’s (Year 9, Parnell) quick tap and go from a penalty saw him cross the line but was not awarded the try. Despite our possession and territorial advantage in the remainder of the first half, Liston were able to score twice when they did have the ball.
Eight minutes into the second half, from an attacking midfield scrum, back play went right to winger Ben Wilson (Year 9, Peart), who made another great run down the side. Ollie Anderson was on hand for a quick pick and go off this ruck, cleaned out by center Robbie Dunn (Year 9, Marsden). Anderson put the ball to boot for a well-aimed grubber, beating winger Jack Burns (Year 9, Peart) on the chase to score a great unconverted try.
Liston’s defense consolidated, and they scored two converted tries, monopolising on a period of decent possession and territory. With five minutes to go, King’s launched an attack from a right field scrum 10 meters out from the Liston try line. Quick hands through the backline saw second five Elijah Pathan (Year 9, Parnell) give a cut pass to Anderson, who set up the ruck midfield. The structure fell apart slightly, but possession and forward momentum was maintained. Pathan eluded 3 defenders with an inside-outside manoeuvre, drew in two more, and then offloaded to winger Ben Wilson. Wilson stepped one tackler, and took the remaining two with him to score a great try in the left corner. The try was unconverted.
Liston replied immediately with a cheeky converted try, as a loose forward saw space around a ruck and took the free run on offer, bringing the final score to 22 – 40. Not the desired outcome, but some fine rugby moments on display in patches. One more chance to prove ourselves worthy of a win this coming weekend, boys! Virtus pollet.
Tries: Ricoh Wilson (1), Ollie Anderson (1), Ben Wilson (1). Conversions: 1/3
King's U15R 7 – 8 Sacred Heart
King's 7A were brought back down to earth after last week's win over Grammar in an attritional game on a difficult pitch at Sacred Heart. King's didn't play to their potential, and missed opportunities and poor discipline cost them in a close game.
The first half was an arm wrestle, with the majority of time spent in the middle of the park. Jarel Samsoni (Year 9, Averill) offered a number of bright sparks in the first half with some threatening runs from fullback, and went close to getting the first try but unfortunately spilled the ball as he was about to cross the line. The team will miss him this week as he is unavailable.
As the half wore on, King's gained some possession and territory, and eventually made the breakthrough with a try from Caleb Stephens (Year 9, Greenbank), which was converted by Toby Wigglesworth (Year 9, Major) to make the score 7-0 at half-time.
The second half was extremely frustrating for King's, as they spent the majority of time in their own half through a combination of mistakes and penalties. Despite some valiant tackling, Sacred eventually breached the defence with a try out wide. The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 7-5 to King's.
The remainder of the game followed the same pattern, with King's defending strongly but unable to relieve the pressure for any length of time. Despite that, it looked like King's had done enough to win the game after some more strong defence and a clearing kick to touch. However, the referee thought otherwise, and King's were penalised for being offside in the midfield in the final play of the game. The kick was successful, and Sacred won the game 8-7.
Even though they lost the game, the boys should be proud of the effort they put in, and they will learn from their mistakes as they prepare for a semi-final this week with MAGS at home.
Tries: Caleb Stephens Conversion: Toby Wigglesworth