First XV 21 - 28 Sacred Heart College
The First XV suffered a 28-21 defeat at the hands of Sacred Heart College on Saturday as their 1A campaign came to a close.Heading into the contest needing to beat Sacred Heart and deny them a bonus point to make the semi-finals, it was always going to be a tough ask for King’s, particularly playing away from home. After a shower of rain passed before kick-off, the sun shone throughout the match and the game lived up to the occasion as both teams performed to a high level.
It was a see-saw contest where the lead changed hands multiple times and there were long patches of the match where the scoreboard was locked up. A try late in the first half to First XV captain Francis Manuleleua, followed by an outstanding sideline conversion from Luca Fuller, saw the teams head to halftime all square at 13-13. That set the stage for a thrilling second spell and despite a penalty from Fuller and a second try from Manuleleua the First XV ultimately came up short in search of a spot in the playoffs as Sacred Heart scored a try inside the final 10 minutes to seal the result.
The First XV showed heart and commitment in spades from prop Sam Afu carrying the ball strongly through the middle to blindside flanker Levi Gwynne-Tuitahi getting through a power of work, while first five Harry Kaveriri directed traffic nicely. Manuleleua paid tribute to Sacred Heart after the game who secured the Fitzpatrick-Kirkpatrick Cup with the victory.
“First of all, I want to congratulate Sacred Heart for going through into the semis,” Manuleleua said.
“My boys showed a lot of resilience. They didn’t give up until that 70th minute and I just want to thank all our supporters that came out [to the game]. It was a big game. Even though we couldn’t get the result they still showed true support for our school.” The match was Manuleleua’s final outing for the First XV, a team he first played for as a Year 10.
“It’s pretty sad that it’s coming to an end, but I leave no regrets on this field and with this jersey. I had my time and it’s time for the new generation to come through and show their talent.” The result left the First XV in sixth on the ladder to end the season, three points adrift of De La Salle College who finished fourth. St Peter’s College topped the 1A standings and will meet De La Salle in the semi-finals. Kelston Boys’ High School finished second on the table and will tackle Sacred Heart in the playoffs.
2A 17 – 27 De La Salle College
King’s were again their own worst enemy as unforced skill errors ultimately proved to be the difference between the two teams. Playing on the Number 1 pitch in near perfect conditions, King’s started well maintaining possession and playing in the right areas of the field during the opening exchanges. Despite conceding three points early on the home side played with continuity and were eventually rewarded for some excellent play with a penalty try for cynical play following a well-balanced kick behind the De La Salle defence from the influential Daniel J-N. Despite creating periods of sustained pressure, several unforced errors continually meant scoring opportunities were spurned. With the game in the balance towards the end of the second half the visitors managed turn the ball over and work their way up the field to score a well worked try which proved to be the decisive score and seal the game.
Plenty of positives to take out of the game but better game management and skill accuracy is needed as the squad aim to finish the season on a high as we enter the final week of the season.
MVP – Bailey Harris (excellent tackling and work rate and winning several turnovers)
1R 3 - 3 Westlake Boy's High School
The equation was very simple for our team, going into our final round-robin match on the weekend as we travelled across to the North Shore to play Westlake Boys High School. Win, and we would guarantee ourselves a home semi-final. Lose or draw, and we would have to rely on this weekend’s round of matches to learn against which school and where we will play our semi-final.
Alas, we were unable to capitalise on a huge possession and territory advantage, and we ended-up sharing the points with WBHS in a 3-all draw. As we have the Bye next weekend, we will have to sit back and watch the results from the final round of matches to see which two teams earn the home advantage for the semi-finals.
With the 1st XV suffering a very close but disappointing loss to SHC to just miss out on their semi-finals, thank goodness the mighty All Blacks brought some joy and satisfaction to an otherwise bitterly-disappointing weekend.
U15 A 39 - 15 Sacred Heart College
King’s travelled to Sacred Heart College for an eagerly anticipated unofficial semi-final, a win and King’s finish top of the table and will compete in the U15A final for the first time in many years, a loss and it would come down to for and against. With a later kick off the ground had time to dry, it was sunny, only light breeze so great rugby conditions.
From the kick off you could sense the first half was going to be a real arm wrestle as both teams brought the physicality. The first few minutes saw quite a few penalties and on the 8 minute mark Sacred Heart would score first out wide to take a 5 nil lead. King’s regathered and would start to build some nice momentum with Ruka Smythe hitting his runners and Zion Savaka organising well. At quarter time TJ Anae-Paila would score a great try and impressive goal kicker Evan Nathan-Patuawa would convert to move King’s in front 7 5. Around 20 minutes gone Evan Nathan-Patuawa would kick a penalty to extend King’s lead. The rest of the first half was a real battle and both teams at times being guilty of giving away too many penalties and one player from each team spending time in the Bin. With only 6 backs Calvin Harris-Tavita moved to 10 and his tactical kicking kept Sacred Heart scoreless for the rest of the first half. King’s created some good opportunities however our decision making would mean we go into the second half with a 10 5 lead. First half saw some great tackling from Joseph Fatuvalu, Saia Manu, Hemana Connew to name a few.
At halftime the leadership group was able to identify the areas we needed to improve as we were creating the opportunities but our discipline was keeping Sacred Heart in the game. Early in the second half Evan Nathan-Patuawa would kick another penalty and then not long after hard running Sione Manupangai would score a nice forwards try with Evan again kicking the conversion. Only minutes later Calvin Harris-Tavita would do a nice kick for Evan Nathan-Patuawa to score and also kick his own conversion. King’s were now dominating the game, the team were moving the ball well and we were looking very dangerous ball in hand. With about 15 mins to go Charlie Burn would find himself in space and would out sprint the covering defence to score a great try out wide and further extend King’s lead.
With the game opening up and with King’s again playing with only 14 players Sacred Heart were able to score again. King’s would start to regain momentum and after multiple phases Calvin Harris-Tavita would do a nice chip kick for Saia Manu to regather and score close to the posts, Calvin was able to convert from a handy position. With time up on the clock Sacred Heart were able to score one last try by catching King’s napping out wide from a tap and go however King’s dominance throughout the game would show with the final score 39 15, King’s had cemented first position on the points table.
Upfront Johan Schaumkell worked tirelessly and was well supported by Ethan Ola, Evile Tuumatavai, Henry Wagstaff to name a few. In the backs Calvin Harris-Tavita, TJ Anae-Paila and Saia Manu played well and Evan Nathan-Patuawa was very accurate off the tee. With no game next weekend the team will work hard over the next two weeks on our accuracy and height in the contact knowing the final is going to be a huge challenge but a great occasion to be involved in, well done to the team.
Tries – TJ Anae-Paila, Evan Nathan-Patuawa, Sione Manupangai, Saia Manu, Charlie Burn
Conversions – Evan Nathan-Patuawa 3, Calvin Harris-Tavita 1
Penalties - Evan Nathan-Patuawa 2
5A 19 - 0 St. Peters College
The Kings 5A team shook off the rust from the holidays and put in a much needed whole team performance this week. After a much better week at training and with a full complement of players an improved performance was expected and the team didn’t disappoint.
Kings dominated the early exchanges and could quite easily have been 14 points ahead before the first points finally did come. Some well worked phase play spreading the ball into wide channels followed by heavy carrying from the Kings forwards up the middle saw the Kings backline with extra numbers on several occasions. Some simple catch and pass skills would have seen both wingers, Keiran Barge and Harry Becker (at different times) walk over for tries, however, the passes didn’t quite find the mark and both opportunities were lost. However, the Kings team did not dwell on the missed opportunities and piled on more pressure forcing St Peter’s into repeated infringements. A well taken quick tap saw Morgan Tapper unlock the defence for a nicely taken first try out wide. The conversion was unsuccessful but finally we had some points to show for our early dominance.
It was pleasing to see the players were working cohesively as a team with decisive decision making meaning the ball moved constantly and was put in front of the forwards at the right times in sticky conditions under foot. Things didn’t go all our own way though as a well drilled St Peter’s scrum caused us some issues in the first half giving St Peter’s a foot hold in the game from which they tried to claw their way back into the game. However, in general play, forwards Matt Hargraves, James Wilson, Te Rae Watene and Sam McKay were carrying well and giving a good platform for ½ back Dominic Lunjevich to feed Morgan and the rest of the backs with a ready supply of clean ball.
The Kings mid-field of Luke Malpass and Harry Taylor benefited from this with some incisive attacking plays which had the St Peter’s team scrambling as another attack was launched down the left wing. No.8 Blake Hayes gave a nice pass to winger Keiran Barge who went very close to scoring and some good old fashioned backing up saw Blake scoring out wide which was converted from a difficult position. Turning into a slight wind up 12 – 0 at ½ time we knew we were not home yet as any early points would have given a very capable St Peter’s team a sniff for an upset.
St Peter’s didn’t give in and launched some telling attacks of their own, but some heavy tackling, most notably from Te Rae Watene and replacement winger Cassra Haghi, with some great cover defence from the forwards and good game management from Morgan Tapper all but snuffed out any hope St Peters had of posting their first points. Another well taken team try to Blake Hayes (for a brace) which was converted rounded out the scoring and the game. Man of the Match was Morgan Tapper followed closely by Blake Hayes and Matt Hargraves who both put in big shifts.
6A 20 - 17 Glendowie
Funnily enough, it was a penalty try that kickstarted the King’s 6A season and kept their schoolboy semifinal grade rugby dreams alive back after a stunning victory, 20-17 against Glendowie College 6A at Glendowie on Saturday morning.
The clash with foes Glendowie was one that the King’s outfit knew that it was imperative they made a statement competition wide. Suffering from the loss of crucial players in positions of great significance to the side – the likes of the 6A ‘muscle-men-up-front’ Oliver Gregory (School, 10) and Will Bowley (School, 10) through to sensational centre specialist, Jayden Arahanga (School, 10) – all away on camp with their class, 10AUG over the last three weeks. Not to mention, prop Tate Chong (Greenbank, 9), Jack Reid (School, 9) and Oliver Whyte (St Johns, 9) all but sidelined suffering from various degrees of concussion after the brutal encounter against a spirited Mt. Albert Grammar 6A side a week earlier.
It was then a prime time and oppurtunity, as expressed during the midweek training sessions by the coaching staff, for players who would not otherwise see as many playing minutes to make the most of the opportunity – and make the most of the opportunity they did.
The 6A side, coached by Teacher of Te Reo Māori, Raniera Harrison (Parnell 2004-2007) and former King’s 1st XV hooker, Louie Whata (Greenbank, 2016-2020) managed to amass a collection of King’s rugby talent who would prove to put their bodies on the line against Glendowie in the must-win fixture.
Coming off the back of limited playing minutes, an impressive performance by loose forward sensation, Oliver Poppelwell (Parnell, 9) who was electric around the park amassing numerous steals at the breakdown and proving to be a headache for the Glendowie ball carriers in to the maroon tide of King’s College defence.
“Although Ollie hasn’t seen much game time this season. He has shown that he is fully capable of putting on a show in the absence of some of the starting loose forwards who have carried the lions share of the work this season. He will definitely be seeing more game time should our side be fortunate to move forward to the semi-final stages of the grade” adds Harrison.
The rugby nous and playmaking abilities of Parekaahu Keepa (Parnell, 9) were and are very much a welcome addition to the 6A outfit. After finding his feet at King’s joining at the start of Term 2, Parekaahu has shown his usefulness through what is seen as a special prowess and talent from his rugby league background. Keepa, of Ngāti Awa descent, was crucial in supporting 6A general and first-five, Felix Spary (Selwyn, 9) in marching the troops through the muddy Glendowie playing surface to grasp the competition points required.
Returning from a persisting neck injury sustained earlier in the season, King’s 6A captain Jamie Ogilvie (Averill, 9) was once again in fine form and showed why he is hugely respected by his peers on and off the field. His ability to keep cool, calm and collected and furthermore make smart decisions at crucial stages in the game a prized skill that will serve him well as he looks to progress through the King’s grade rugby system.
Harrison (Parnell, 2004-2007) says that the reintroduction of Ogilvie was a blessing on a week that the 6A side was really ‘up against it’ missing some crucial members of the squad. “Having the ability to have a cool customer like Jamie back out there in a King’s jersey was something that every coach at King’s, I believe at least, is after.”
The hard-fought victory against a very tough Glendowie team now sets up a showdown between King’s and old foe, Sacred Heart College at Sacred Heart this Saturday. With King’s currently sitting in 5th place with 14 competition points on the table and Sacred Heart only one spot ahead, in fourth, on 18 points. Only a bonus point win to King’s, in the final match of round robin play this year, would mean that King’s would progress through to the semi-finals in the coveted fourth and final playoff spot.
King’s 6A is scheduled to take on Sacred Heart College 6A in the must-win clash at Sacred Heart College Field 1, on Saturday 20 August, with a kick-off time of 10:30am.
U15 R 31 - 24 Auckland Grammar
Want’s ‘Benny Hill’ impression keeps U/15’s in with a semi chance.
Was it the later kick off time? Was it the residual spiritual effects of the runathon? Was it because we were playing our traditional rivals? Whatever it was, the sounds of ‘Yakety Sax’ (A.K.A The Benny Hill theme) were pervading the Auckland air as Josh Want’s inspired runs led the Under 15 restricted team to victory with their best display of the season.
The opening 10 minutes were a dream. Good defence led to a turnover and there followed a series of pods and rucks and when the ball was spun wide wing Ayden Miller dived over in the corner. Deja-Vu 2 minutes later on the opposite wing with Will Hargrave scoring in the corner.
Queue the ‘whale song’ music as Kings decided it was snooze time and Grammar roared back into the game with strong carries and precise rucking. They scored 2 tries, both converted to leave the team facing a half time deficit. Half-Time : Kings 10 AGS ‘B’14
The second half was the ‘Want’ show. The man of the match ran like a Tasmanian devil after 2 cans of ‘V’ and simply tormented the AGS defence. He was ably assisted by Nico Eady and Charlie Robertson as Kings discovered the power of the ‘off-load’. Josh Want stormed over for a try after 5 minutes and following a sensational run by the same player, Nico Eady ghosted past the Grammar defence to score a second try. Both were converted by Matt Cunningham.
With the lineouts operating as well as they have, Kings continued the assault and Toby Richardson was unlucky to be bowled into touch in the corner before a trademark Cunningham kick and chase led Kings final try of the day. Kings were forced to defend for the last 5 minutes and Grammar got a well-deserved consolation try on the full time whistle.
Tries: Ayden Miller, Josh Want, Will Hargrave, Nic Eady, Matt Cunningham. 3 Con: Matt Cunningham