King’s College 22 – 51 Palmerston North Boys' High School
The First XV put on a much-improved showing in the second half of their traditional fixture against Palmerston North Boys’ High School at home on Saturday but eventually went down 22-51.
King’s were dealt their fair share of adversity before a ball was even kicked as they lost multiple players on the morning of the game to illness.
Flanker Hawaiki Morrison (Year 12, Parnell) was among the late scratchings with Johan Schaumkell (Year 11, School) promoted to the run-on side, while loosehead prop Flynn Hamilton-Muller (Year 12, Averill) switched to the bench with Sione Manuopangai (Year 11, Peart) given the start.
In what potentially caused the biggest disruption, first five Daniel James-Nanai (Year 13, School) was pulled from the starting team only moments before kick-off leaving regular halfback Marco Miln (Year 11, Selwyn) to run the cutter with Freddie Gilbert (Year 12, Selwyn) given a rare start at scrumhalf.
A disappointing opening 35 minutes in saw King’s head to the halftime break behind 3-36 as the visitors showcased their slick running game built on powerful forward play with quick passes and offloads. Palmerston North had a collection of fleet-footed backs who ran dynamic lines and put the First XV under pressure, while their line speed on defence was also impressive.
Despite having the worst of it in the first spell, King’s were determined to perform in the second stanza and the young side showed plenty of fight as Dillon Vaoga (Year 13, Averill), Qortezz Tuala (Year 13, Averill), and Levi Gwynne (Year 13, Parnell) all scored tries, while Luca Fuller (Year 13, Selwyn) and Miln each added a conversion meaning King’s won the second half 19-15.
Vice-captain Oliver Hatch (Year 13, Major) ran hard all game, while locks Connor Empson (Year 12, St John's) and Jacob Carter (Year 11, School House) were busy and outside back James Ford (Year 13, Parnell) brought energy from the bench.
Gwynne said the slow start proved costly but there were positives to take from the contest.
“You could see in the first half, conceding five, six tries, it was hard to get back into the game,” he said. “But proud of the boys [for] not quitting and winning that second half and finishing strong.”
The First XV now return to 1A action and will travel to Liston College on Saturday 22 July for their next fixture with kick-off set for 2.30pm. With three games to go in the local competition the team will be looking to finish with a flourish.
Gwynne said the main thing they need to focus on against Liston is bringing the required intensity from the opening whistle.
“Looking to have a better start against them coming back and get into the game earlier than we did [against Palmerston North].”