First XV 15 - 3 Auckland Grammar
The First XV defeated Auckland Grammar 15-3 in their traditional fixture at King’s College on Saturday as they claimed the Cooper-Greenbank Cup.
The match, played in slippery conditions due to persistent drizzle, was the 212th fixture between the teams in a storied rivalry that dates back to 1896.
King’s hadn’t beaten Grammar in a traditional clash since 2018, but did topple them in a 1A semi-final contest a year later.
The team enjoyed long periods of possession during the first half on Saturday, but they were unable to make the most of their opportunities as handling errors proved costly.
Locked at 3-3 after the opening spell, First XV captain Francis Manuleleua said the message from the coaches at the break was clear.
“We just had to dig deep. [They] told us we had to fix up our breakdowns and our errors and just having that grit and that heart to just keep working and keep moving forward,” he said.The First XV had to go through challenging stretches on defence in the second half but their tackling was resilient, and they eventually forced Grammar into making mistakes.
King’s were also disruptive at lineout time, while their scrum was dominant, which laid a good platform for the team to build from.
Grammar’s rush defence in the backline saw King’s chip kick the ball in behind the defensive line a few times and eventually the tactic paid off when it led to a try for fullback Trey Alatini in the 49th minute.
The match-sealing try came about 10 minutes later as some quick thinking from reserve halfback Jack Elliott sparked a break from inside the King’s half and Harry Kaveriri scored.
Manuleleua said it was a great feeling to beat Grammar, particularly with a big home crowd in attendance.“To come back with this, it just means a lot to the school. They come in week in, week out supporting us so it’s good to bring back the dub,” he said.The win left King’s in seventh place on the 1A ladder but only five points adrift of the top four. Manuleleua said the victory over Grammar would help set the team on the right path for the rest of the season.
“This will send a lot of momentum to next week and the weeks after. A game like this, it’s a big win.” The First XV’s next match is a home outing against Mount Albert Grammar School on Saturday 25 June.
2A 13 - 17 Kelston BHS
King’s 2nd XV suffered their second defeat in as many weeks against a physical Kelston side in west Auckland. With a game plan aimed at moving the big Kelston pack around the field, King’s made some early inroads showing some good continuity between the backs and forwards, which lead to some good territory and possession. King’s were first to strike following a break from winger Louie Ballan deep into the opposition 22 and after several close range carries hooker Qortezz Tuala dotted down with fullback Harrison Martin adding the conversion. Some poor discipline then allowed Kelston some solid field position and despite some excellent defence Kelston responded with their first points of the game from a well organised lineout maul. The boot of Martin again provided 3 more points just before the break to give King’s a 5 point lead at the break. Kelston used their powerful runners to good effect in the second half which eventually led to another score for the home side. Influential fly half Daniel James-Nanai was then sent to the sin bin for a high tackle mid-way through the half which signalled a period of sustained pressure for the hosts resulting in another score. There were opportunities in the final 5 minutes to win the game however some costly handling errors meant King’s to settle for a losing bonus point.
MVP- Co-Captain Tani Harrison who displayed excellent work rate both in defence and attack and lead from the front.
1R 7 - 7 Auckland Grammar
Saturday saw the Grammar 1R team travel across to King’s to play an unofficial curtain-raiser for the big match of the day – the much-awaited King’s vs. Grammar 1st XV match. This was the first championship match for both teams and both teams wanted to set the tone for the big game that was to follow. The game was a real ‘arm-wrestle’ with both teams trying to break the opposition defence but each time an opportunity was created, either a mistake or solid defence would nullify each attack. 20 minutes into the match, from a lineout win, Head Boy and 2nd 5/8 – Nick Tapper ran a great line to carve through the opposition defence to score a deserved try right next to the posts. 1st 5/8 – Misha Craig converted and we turned around at halftime 7 – 0 up. The second half started the same way the first half did with both teams throwing the proverbial ‘ kitchen sink’ at each other but neither team was able to score any points. In the final quarter of the game, Grammar seemed to gain the ascendency that was helped by our poor discipline that allowed them to kick into our 22m on more that one occasion. Grammar kept pounding our line but we managed to keep repelling them. In the final play of the game, Grammar scored from a series of pick-n-goes and their kicker was able to convert to level the game 7 – 7 and secure what was probably a deserved draw. This was disappointing as we certainly had the winning of the game, but just lacked the leadership, effort and control to shut out the game in the dying minutes. This Saturday sees the much-vaunted Sacred Heart College team come to King’s in what will no-doubt be another big challenge for our boys, not made easier by the fact that we picked up four injuries in our game, two quite serious ones.
5A 20 - 11 St Peters College
We saw a distinct change in mood in the squad this week, with a much improved showing at training, culminating in a win at home to a well organised and determined St Peters team. A very unfortunate training injury during the week to promising forward Charlie Kaye gave the team some extra motivation going into the match, and the boys wanted to put in a good performance for him.
There is an old saying that defence wins matches and this could not be truer with Saturday's game. Some early nerves saw St Peters on the attack early with several penalties in quick succession meaning the team had to defend their line stoutly. 10 minutes of solid defensive work repelled St Peters organized attack repeatedly with forwards Sam McKay, Te Rae Watene, Matt Hargreaves, Blake Hayes, Yonas Mitchell and James Wilson putting in big defensive shifts. A neatly worked show and go line break by 1st 5 Dominic Lunjevich finally gave some respite and the boys worked their way into the St Peters 22. Shortly after, a nice pass into a hole saw hard running 2nd 5 Ethan Callaway break the line for the opening try. With growing confidence the boys pushed St Peters hard as 1/2 time beckoned but St Peters were up for the challenge and the boys settled for a penalty to Morgan Tapper to give the boys an 8 nil lead at half time.
The boys started well in the second 1/2, with the reserves contributing very well, however, the rising penalty count against Kings kept St Peters in the match and they converted two penalties to close the gap. Replacement second row Jack Becker then sneaked down the short side after sustained phase play for the boys second try out wide to extend our lead to 13 - 6. There was no shortage of passion in the game and St Peters responded with a try of their own to close the game to 13 - 11 with 10 minutes to go and with St Peters seemingly on the ascendancy on the back of our ill-discipline. However the boys new found belief started to show and they rolled their sleeves up with resolute defense keeping St Peters at bay. The next 10 minutes was a real arm wrestle but the deadlock was finally broken by replacement centre, Harry Taylor, who stripped his opponent of the ball to scamper away 35 meters to the try line to give the boys some breathing space with 5 minutes to go. St Peters never gave up and they pushed us hard to the end, and the elation in the team was palpable at the final whistle. The team will have to work hard on ensuring they are not on the wrong side of the refs whistle so much next week against Grammar, but they can take great confidence into training this week on the back of their first competition win of the season.
Tries: Ethan Callaway Bartolomeu, Jack Becker, Harry Taylor
Penalty & Conversion: Morgan Tapper
Man of the Match to Matt Hargreaves for his commitment and leadership.
6A 15 - 5 Glendowie College
An abhorrent display of adjudicating high tackle laws was not enough to slow down the King’s 6A side who were far too strong for a building Glendowie College 6A side at King’s on Saturday morning.
The King’s outfit, looking to keep their unbeaten streak intact, looked head and shoulders above their visiting opponents who have just been promoted from the 6B competition to play alongside the other Auckland secondary schools contesting for 6A honours in 2022. However, crucial mistakes and unnecessary penalties meant that the scoreline should have been a lot more than it ended up being on paper in the first stanza.
Fullback Jasper Howse (Parnell, 10) was impressive throughout the match. Leading attack and assisting strategic placement of defenders to repel the Glendowie attack. The King’s sidelines erupted as Howse, widely acknowledged as one of the fastest Year 10 students across 100m at King’s, scored an impressive 90m try leaving the Glendowie defenders in his wake.
King’s coach, Raniera Harrison (Parnell, 2004-2007) says Jasper is an exceptional talent. “You saw him take off – and that was from a standing start as well. We’re hugely lucky to have Jasper in our backline. He is a threat to defensive structures and is a huge asset to the 6A outfit.”
Dayton Ng Wun (Greenbank, 9) found himself earning a starting wing spot after numerous injuries have debilitated the King’s backline. Usual suspects out wide for King’s, Jack Reid (School, 9) and Marcus MacLeod (Selwyn, 9) are both sidelined with niggling ankle injuries and King’s medical staff have advised that they will be ready for play again in semi-finals.
6A coach, Louie Whata (Greenbank, 2016-2020) says that Dayton has shown great promise and made a great transition from the loose forward trio in to the backs. “He has all the makings for a great King’s rugby player. The more we can get some match time under his belt, the better.”
King’s found a new sense of go forward ball through the tight-five with the pack all putting their hand up against a defiant Glendowie team. However, it was the no-nonsense, no-prisoners approach, however, from Oliver Gregory (Selwyn, 10) that saw him take home the $10 voucher proudly sponsored by the King’s College Tuck Shop.
King’s now turn to their next opponent, Sacred Heart College, who will play on the King’s #1 this Saturday with a scheduled kickoff time of 10:30.
U15A 10 - 15 Auckland Grammar
King’s U15A had trained well during the week, both teams arrived early, the weather was overcast and the ground wet, great winter rugby conditions. From the kick off you could sense this game was going to be a real arm wrestle and it did not disappoint.
On the 7 min mark King’s would gain the advantage line and quick clearance from Ruka Smythe to Zion Savaka who would put a smart kick into space for Evan Nathan-Patuawa to gather and score a nice try for a 5 nil lead.
The next 10 mins was played in the middle of the field. King’s would again kick and find the grass but on the return run from Grammar the referee would see an infringement and King’s would find our captain Saia Manu spending 10 mins in the bin. After a few mins Grammar were awarded with a penalty in front of the posts which they converted for a half time score of 5 3 to King’s.
The second half would start like the first, both teams defending well. On the 40 min mark while King’s were starting to build some momentum a wayward pass would be intercepted and Grammar would score under the posts to take a 10 5 lead with 20 mins to play.
King’s would start to gain territory advantage however far too many uncharacteristic mistakes in our green zone would come back to haunt us. It was one of those games where our poor hands, our discipline and poor decision making at times would prevent us from converting our opportunities into points. With only mins left in the game we would have Sean Angilau shown a yellow card by the referee and Grammar would score another try from the resulting penalty to expend their lead.
King’s would re-group and from the kick off would stretch Grammar across the field and Evan Nathan-Patuawa would score his second try of the game. With less than a minute to play King’s knew we had to keep ball in hand and after multiple phases we created the overlap however our hands would let us down again and Grammar would win 15 10.
Up front Johan Schaumkell would have a great game and he was well supported by Sione Manupangai and Hemana Connew. Sam Gapes would again ensure we would win our fair share of lineouts. In the backs TJ Anae-Paila would never give up and was supported well by Zion Savaka and Evan Nathan-Patuawa.
The team will take away lot of learnings from the loss and we look forward to working hard during the week and putting on a complete team performance against St Peter’s next weekend.
Tries – Evan Nathan-Patuawa 2
U15B 3 - 42 Onheunga High School
In a tough Round 4 match against Onehunga High School on their No 1 field, the U15B boys had to dig deep with only one substitute player on the bench including ring-ins Hooker Felix Hellriegel and Lock Wyatt Epsom who grafted brilliantly on the day. The many players who played out of position performed admirably.
Prop Tyler-Rex Samasoni-Tukuitonga and No 8 Logan Marsh worked particularly hard for the full sixty minutes making big defensive tackles on onheunga’s oversized runners and carried exceptionally well on attack. Lock and captain Cohen Harding consistently secured go-forward ball from lineouts which set a good platform for attack.
Backs Captain Kace Hipkins-Taimai commandeered his backline well from first five eighth and navigated team play for decent territorial advantage throughout the match. He exited well when in the red zone entertaining the crowd (King’s College supporters mostly) with multiple punts that sent the ball over the high fence and into the nearby bush. We almost ran out of replacement balls. Inside back Bronson Kingi has another steady game bringing stability and confidence to the backs. Fullback Jamie Ludbrook again showed skill and prowess throughout the match, defensively saving many tries from being scored, and injecting himself with pace on attack.
Penalty: Felix Hellriegel (1/2)
Our thanks to Mr Daniel Tukuitonga for helping out with pre-match preparation and team warm up.
U15R 7 - 19 MAGS
The first half was the team’s best performance of the season. The wingers saw more of the ball in 35 minutes than the previous 5 games. The pods did their job. The tackles were hard and direct. But the last pass would just not stick.
The whole of the first half was played with Grammar on defence in their 22, with the exception of 3 minutes. In those 3 minutes, the opposition scored. When the half time whistle went, it was hard to match the territory and possession stats to the score board.
Half-Time : Kings 0 AGS 5
The second half started the same as the first. But the nails in the coffin came from 2 quick tries in the 4th and 5th minute to the opposition, knocked the stuffing out of the team. For the next 10 minutes Kings hung on and could have folded.
Resilience is defined as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’. This team is starting to show this and when Finn Jones crossed for a try in the 19th minute of the second half a repeat of last week’s heroics looked on.
However, it was just not to be and despite dominating possession and territory, the next try did not materialise. The team was disappointed but we need to bottle those feelings for next weekend’s game at St Kents where we have a chance to make up for the close pre-season loss.
Tries: 1 (Finn Jones): Conv: 1 (Matt Cunningham)
Player of the Day : Nico Eaddy. Displayed good skills and excellent determination.