04 Jul 2022

Monday 04 July 2022

Read on for a wrap-up of the weekend's games.

1Stxvmags250622 031
First XV 18 - 32 Kelston Boy's High School

The First XV suffered their second defeat of their 1A campaign as they went down 32-18 to Kelston Boys’ High School at King’s College on Saturday.

The match loomed as pivotal for the First XV who were looking to make a move up the points table but ultimately, they met a physical Kelston team who played well and made the most of their opportunities. Kelston were slick in the backs and their dangerous ball-runners were a threat throughout the game, which was played in great conditions with the sun shining, and it only took a few minutes for the visitors to take the lead when they scored an early try.

King’s certainly had their chances and briefly held the lead midway through the first half when flanker Scott Sheffield-Gray scored. But that advantage was short-lived as Kelston returned serve with a penalty and then another five-pointer as they took a 15-8 lead to halftime. King’s captain Francis Manuleleua kicked a penalty goal as the First XV made a good start to the second spell, but Kelston were relentless as they added three further tries, which helped them close out the game.

Discipline proved an issue for King’s as two players were sent to the sin bin during the second half and although fullback Luca Fuller scored a late try, which capped a strong individual performance, they were unable to mount a comeback. “We always knew coming into this game it was going to be a tough game, especially against a quality top-four side,” Manuleleua said.

“They brought that physicality and that contact, and they really showed us what it takes for us to get back into that top four.” The defeat left King’s in seventh place on the 1A ladder, six points adrift of Mount Albert Grammar School who are in fourth. The undefeated St Peter’s College lead the 1A competition, while Kelston are in second place, four points back. The First XV’s next match is a home fixture against Aorere College on Saturday 9 July before the 1A takes a break during the school holidays.

Manuleleua said the team had plenty to work on as they look ahead to their upcoming matches, but they were confident they would be able to get back to their winning ways. “Just fix up our errors from this game. We were ill-disciplined and [gave away] too many penalties down in our 22, which led to yellow cards.

“We will bounce back.”

2A 11 – 15 Auckland Grammar School

 The 2nd XV were narrowly beaten at College Rifles RUFC by a determined AGS side last Wednesday night. Under floodlights and in poor conditions King’s made an encouraging start playing into the wind with intent, however the steady rainfall made handling tricky as Grammar manged to capitalise on some sustained pressure to score a converted try in the right hand corner mid-way through the first half. King’s then responded with a well worked try which saw full back Harrison Martin crash over from close range to narrow the gap, however Grammar were able to extend the lead just before the break kicking through a successful penalty. King’s seemed to grab the ascendency on the second half creating several try scoring opportunities; unfortunately a lack of composure and precision at key times coupled with some good scramble defence from Grammar meant that these chances weren’t taken. Despite a further six points from the boot of Martin, Grammar managed to score a late try against the run of play, which proved to be the winning score. Some positives are to be taken from the performance coupled with real frustration as it was a game there for the taking.

 MVP – Tani Henwood and Bailey Harris: significant contributions both in attack and defence.

1R 19 - 21 St. Kentigern College

We were most happy to be able to play on the SKC #1 rugby field as it is one of the best rugby fields in Auckland and just added to the hype of the situation that faced us on Saturday. With this being the last match of the term, the team were motivated to put together a strong performance to finish the term in a good position when we return next term. Alas, we fell just short of a well-drilled and strong SKC team – losing 19 – 21. We did, however, pick up a losing bonus point that may well be crucial in the race to make the semi-finals.

SKC got off to a strong start and raced out to a 14 – 0 lead after a few defensive errors allowed them to score two tries under the posts, that were duly converted by their kicker. Our boys did not panic and did not give in. From a series of rucks we entered their 22m zone and the forwards went to work with a good set of pick’n goes that resulted in captain – Will Tingey scoring to the right of the posts. 1st 5/8 – Lachie Palmer converted and we turned around at halftime 7 – 14 down. 

In the second half we played a lot more structured rugby and from a breakout, left wing – Bailey Liu ran 60m to score a wonderful solo try. Palmer was unable to convert but the gap was now only two points. STK then managed to score a well-worked converted try off a scrum, but our forwards once again went to work playing into a fairly stiff breeze. From another set of pick’n goes by the forwards, captain fantastic – Will Tingey scored his second try that was once again converted from out wide by Palmer. With the clock winding down and still only two points adrift, we were unable to catch STK who managed to shut out the match for a final scoreline of 21 – 19 to them.

After three of six rounds, we currently sit in third spot with a win, a draw and a loss. Our next game is on the final Saturday of our school holidays with the reception of MAGS here at King’s. Hopefully the boys will have a good break and be able to recover from the niggly injuries and illness that we are currently experiencing.

U15A 48 - 3 De La Salle College

It was a superb morning for running rugby with good dry conditions and a blue sky. The King’s No 2 field was prepared finely offering a firm surface. King’s had trained well all week, finally with good numbers after having several players out over the last few weeks with the flu. Sadly, our Assistant Coach Lucky Smythe had been out all week isolating. King’s started well and after only two minutes barn storming prop Sione Manuopangai, fresh from his 1st XV debut last week, would score from a lineout, giving King’s an early lead, with Harris-Tavita converting. King’s began to get good continuity in attack, some powerful running from impressive back and skipper Saia Manu saw him slice through the defence and score a good individual try, again converted by Harris-Tavita. The team then had a lapse in discipline and conceded too many penalties which lead to De La Salle getting their first points of the game through a penalty. 

After a sustained period on defence, Sam Gapes and Hemana Connew showed their tireless work-rates with some telling tackles. In the 22nd minute King’s had an opportunity from a lineout inside the de La Salle 22 and set a strong maul which saw Charlie Burn go over from. Harris-Tavita again had his kicking radar on and converted.  Just before halftime impressive front row forward Sione Manuopangai crossed the line again, taking the score to 26-3 at halftime.

With a penalty count that was not in favour of the home team, the directive was to leave the contest at the breakdown and take an extra step back from the ruck to avoid any offside penalties. 

Shortly after halftime Hemana Connew would crash over, off a good sequence of phases put together and the team looked like they were ready to pick up from where they left off in the in first half. 

A dominant set piece was starting to show with the King’s lineout functionally well not only in attach but also in defence. Another good flow of play which saw multiple phases lead to a try in the corner from Ryan Young. The conversion from out wide by Zion Savaka. 

Again, our discipline at times would let us down in the second half and this is an area the team will need to improve on moving into the later stages of the season. 

Up front Sione Manupangai, Hemana Connew and Sam Gapes would have good games. In the backs Saia Manu lead the team well again from the front and worked tirelessly all game on attack and defence. Ryan Young finished exceptionally well when he came on the wing. Evan Nathan-Patuawa would have a strong defensive game and show some good touches with the ball in hand to set up his outsides and be awarded player of the day. Calvin Harris-Tavita guided the team well in the first half and showed he is maturing well and understanding the importance of winning the territory game. 

The team still have some work to do on discipline, in particular the offside line. With no game this week the team look forward to working hard over the week before having some rest during the first week of the holidays and then preparing for Westlake which will be a top of the table clash. Lastly, congratulations to TJ Anae-Paila who played half a game for us and made his debut for our King’s 1st XV coming off the bench. 

Tries – 2 Sione Manupangai, 2 Ryan Young, Saia Manu, Charlie Burn, Hemana Connew, Ethan Ola

Conversion: 3 Calvin Harris-Tavita, Zion Savaka

U15B 10 - 75 Manurewa High School A

The U15B boys suited up against a formidable full-strength Manurewa High School side this Saturday in a game that they spent mostly on defence. The pound-for-pound mismatch took it’s toll from the first five minutes with an HIA injury to first five eighths Kace hHpkins-Taimai. The team defended courageously throughout the match but with the onset of fatigue the success rate of first-up tackles declined rapidly resulting in a blow-out score. 

Working to their strengths, there were some very positive aspects in the game. The trusty trio combination of lineout lifters Loghan Pulotu-McCarthy, Taani Mafileo-Afeaki and jumper Cohen Harding worked a treat every time winning not just our ball but stealing a good amount of the opposition’s throws as well. 

Despite the minimal possession overall, the boys still managed to string some outstanding phases of attack together. The midfield combination of Bronson Kings and Karson Hawkins worked steadily to create opportunity. Early in the second half, off the back of three phases of forward play, replacement first five eighth Kosal Lee delivered a pin-point accurate cross kick to Winger Taylor Bai who finished with a try in the right corner. Looking sharp and hungry, Taylor - who has only just returned from injury after a long recovery period - scored a second individual try from broken play after evading the first tackler then speeding 60 metres down the right sideline to score in the corner. 

Fullback Jamie Lubrook being the last line of defence, had the hardest job on the day. He did an amazing job defending with a consistent and high work rate, and then still managed to find the energy and enthusiasm to inject into and combine in backline attack.

Tries: Taylor Bai (2)

5A King’s 13 - 12 Mt. Albert Grammar School

Having lost to MAGS earlier in the year the boys wanted to right the ledger and an improved performance was expected. The boys were under no illusions and a tough clash was expected and the game did not disappoint. 

The match was ferocious from the first whistle with Kings enjoying the best of the early exchanges. However, as was our achilles heel last week, a couple of penalties in quick succession saw MAGS pressuring the Kings line. The Kings forwards rolled up their sleeves and defended their line stoutly, with industrious loose forwards Blake Hayes (Man of the Match), Matt Hargreaves and Marco McLaren turning over plenty of ball, and tight forwards Te Rae Watene, Yonas Mitchell and Sam McKay hitting rucks hard which disrupted the MAGS flow.

In the end to end stuff that followed, a new look Kings back line saw cleanly delivered ball from Dominic Lunjevich enabling Morgan Tapper to unleash Ethan Callaway, Harry Taylor and winger Jackson Newmann who collectively concocted some sweeping attacks.

Midway through the first half MAGS enjoyed prolonged possession close to the Kings try line but a solid defensive effort spurred on by support from the reserves behind the dead ball line repelled wave after wave of MAGS attack, and eventually MAGS ran out of ideas with Jackson Newmann nailing a good spot tackle and jolting the ball free to thwart a threatening attack out wide. The resulting stanza saw Kings rewarded as they spied space out wide and the backs spread the ball from deep in their own 1/2. MAGS scrambled well and the subsequent clearing kick from Kings was deep but not out. The return kick from MAGS found grass but was punished when Matt Hargreaves collected it and broke a couple of tackles down the same channel the original attack had exposed. Heading to the corner in what would have been a remarkable long range effort, Matt was scragged agonizingly short by the MAGS winger who covered a lot of ground to make a try saving tackle, however, Matt kept his composure and popped a short ball to Zeal Jones in support who scored with Morgan Tapper converting for a hard earned 7 - 0 lead. 

The remainder of the 1/2 was end to end, side to side stuff, and both teams were nearly out on their feet when the 1/2 time whistle finally came. The second half started like the first and Kings enjoyed early possession and pressure. MAGS defended well but pushed the barriers on the offside line and a subsequent penalty for a shoulder charge saw Kings take the points on offer to lead 10 - 0.

As the second half progressed our scrum started to malfunction, and the rising penalty count kept MAGS in the game. MAGS enjoyed the best of the next 15 minutes with two opportunist tries, seeing MAGS leading 12 – 10 with 7 minutes to go, with MAGS celebrating their second try in exuberate fashion. The boys were disappointed with the soft tries but they knew they did not need to panic. Both teams were on edge and there was no shortage of passion with some stinging tackles, one of which slipped high eventually seeing Kings rewarded with a penalty out wide. The kick hit the post but the Kings team piled on the defensive pressure earning another penalty in a slightly more difficult position and which presented a difficult decision on whether to kick to the corner or attempt to take the points. However, Morgan Tapper stepped up and slotted a difficult kick to give Kings a narrow 13 - 12 lead with minutes left. 

Kings would see no more scoring opportunities as a mounting penalty count late in the game saw MAGS applying plenty of pressure as they looked to inflict what would have been a difficult to stomach loss for the boys.  After MAGS missed a couple of kickable penalties they continued to pile on the pressure for a winning try but Kings determination not to capitulate was evident as their defence once again proved to be the difference as the clock went deep into injury time. A turnover in the tight by Dominic Lunjevich saw Morgan Tapper kick the ball as far as he could towards Hospital Road to give Kings a much deserved win in a testing encounter. 

6A 8 - 10 St. Peters College

The 6A rugby side had another arm wrestle of a match against a determined St Peters side, unluckily going down 8-10 in a well fought game.  Our first away game of the season brought a new challenge for the boys especially being at the Cage.   

Kings took the lead early in the game with stand in captain Daniel Chitty directing the lads and keeping a cool head in an intense first 15 minutes of the game.  He slotted a penalty kick from 30 meters out to put the boys ahead.  

The home team responded immediately with a few nicely constructed tries giving the Kings side a wakeup call.  Ben MacDonald and Denver Olde stepped up with their “lead by example” mentality which lifted the team and provided clean go forward ball for the backs.  First five eighth Felix Spary brought some “razzle dazzle” into the backline and lead the boys around the paddock.  His composure and decision making contributed to Kings scoring a well-earned try.  

The second half was arguably one of the most physically demanding halves of the season.  Immediately from the first whistle the lads were put under pressure  as St Peters looked to use space out wide.  Centre Jayden Arahanga and Winger Dayton Ng Wun stood up and put a few hits on to make sure no points were conceded.  

Finishers Will Iverson and Hugo Velvin came on and made an impact through their high work rate and intensity in a last effort to put the boys ahead.  Drawing towards the last few minutes of the game the boys had opportunities to get ahead but couldn’t quite execute leading to a full time score of 8-10 to St Peters.  Players of the Match went to Denver Olde and Felix Spary for their unrelenting fight and leadership qualities which were important in keeping our side in the match.