U15B 19 - 15 De La Salle College
Without a shadow of doubt, the U15B boys – a team forged in the fire of a seemingly-endless season of David versus Goliath encounters – saved their very best for the last run of the season against a De La Salle side stacked with 15A players.
Against the odds, the hard-fought win was sealed by the exasperated referee in the dying minutes of the match as the constant barrage of King’s assaults on the De La Salle line resulted in a string of cynical penalties that left him no option but to award us the penalty try – a team try deserving of the momentous 60-minute team effort. To get a first-win on the very last game of the season may as well have been the final to win the championship - it certainly felt like it to every single King’s College player, parent, coach and supporter present!
We were very thankful to have Prop Tevita Veikoso, Centre Taylor Bai, Second five-eight Sean Angilau and debut Winger Sione Pome’e bring our player numbers up to the required fifteen on the day, and so every player had to dig deep to play the full 60 minutes without substitution. Two HIA assessments (Bai and No. 8 - Loghan Pulotu-McCarthy) meant that we were down to 14 players for a period of time, twice in the game.
Team captain and First five eight Kace Hipkins-Taimai commandeered the game with confidence and skill. Three minutes into the match, off the back of solid phase play by the forward pack from kick-off, he set-up Angilau with an outside pass who beat two players to crash over for the first try of the game, which Hipkins-Taimai duly converted. With our key lineout jumper Lock Cohen Harding away on camp, Flanker Ethan Mathewson stepped up to the plate. Not only did Mathewson play his best game of the season, he also worked in perfect synchronicity with Hooker Christopher Hatch to secure us top-notch lineout ball, plus a few of the opposition throw-ins to boot. Not bad at all for a first-time lineout jumper. Midway through the first half, De La Salle managed to recoup the lead, getting two unconverted backs tries off league-style forward play down the middle of the paddock. Just before the halftime whistle, Winger Johnnie Wilson wow-ed the crowd as he sped down the right side line after receiving an early pass from Fullback Jamie Ludbrook, blitzing the defence to score an unconverted try.
We knew it was coming in the second half more than in the first. Sure enough, De La Salle ran their plays based off oversized players hitting it up down the middle then spinning it out wide. They were rewarded with a try midway through the second half to steal the lead 15-12. The boys defence held then stepped up a notch. The game stayed locked at this score but play see-sawed back and forth evenly until the last 5 minutes where our hard work and low error rate paid off, giving us that golden territorial advantage.
The tight five – Veikoso, Hatch and Prop Tyler-Rex Samasoni-Tukuitonga, Locks Taanilasike Mafile’o-Afeaki, and Hala Sinisa were an engine-room of work in both defence and attack throughout, running fiercely into a constant wall of defenders while maintaining possession for our backs to feed off. Loosies Gus Iverson, Mathewson and Pulotu-McCarthy ranged wide always ready to make a tackle, graft-in with the tight-five, or link play to the backs. Pulotu-McCarthy and Half back Fraser Brown executed a practiced move of scrums effectively. Brown did stellar job of distribution and steering forward play throughout.
A memorable performance to be proud of. As far as I am concerned, the best game of rugby I have watched all year. Well done boys. A hard-earned and well-deserved victory. More importantly, you have developed into better players and have grown as young men. Final thanks to the parents who provided food and drinks for a lovely end of year after-match straight after the game (Richard Hatch and June Jelas for organising) also for your generous and unexpected gifts for us coaches.
Tries – Sean Angilau (1), Johnny Wilson (1), Penalty Try
Conversions: Hipkins-Taimai (1/2)
U15R 5 - 50 Mt. Albert Grammar School
The tank ran dry
Under the posts as the time ticked over to 9.22am on a spring morning the coaches turned to each other and lamented the fact that encouraging the players to ‘off-load’ had resulted in a new team.
The opening 7 minutes were a continuation of the previous week. Kings had possession of the ball and it was kept alive and spun from side to side and good off loads were made. When would the try come?
We spoke too soon, as this was the high water mark of the game. From that moment on, a well drilled MAGS side played with an intensity and a drive that Kings could not match. The first try, was almost 1 minute after the fateful comment. Two further scores were repeated before half time and the semi-final chance was all but gone.
Half-Time : Kings 0 MAGS 19
The highlight of the second half was the operation of the lineout. Edgar was consistently able to hit Coulter and Wilson. The first line-out led to a try by Josh Want and the shoots of a recovery were evident.
But, tired legs were the order of the day and despite some brave tackles by Robertson, Yeoman Miller and MacInnes the horse had bolted. MAGS scored a further 4 tries in the final 10 minutes to win convincingly.
Tries: Josh Want
Player of the Day : Sam Coulter
5A 7 - 25 Auckland Boy's Grammar School
The team went into this must-win match full of confidence after a good weeks training-however, they knew that only a win would do to get them into the playoffs.
Playing into a moderate breeze in the first 1/2 we knew Grammar would use the wind and try and pin us down in our 22, so we talked about holding the ball for long periods to make Grammar tackle. In the first 20 we made a pretty good fist of it and we were executing well. Despite territorial advantage Grammar only had 3 points to show for the breeze and they must have been a little frustrated as our defence held them out.
We had our own chances too and there was some good scramble from Grammar as well that kept us from launching some threatening attacks of our own. However with time closing on what would have been a pleasing scenario if we could go into the break only 3 points adrift, we made a series of uncharacteristic errors putting ourselves under pressure when we shouldn’t have been. That pressure eventually told and we gifted Grammar an easy try just before half time. 10 points adrift was not the end of the World and the message was simple, execute the basics well and play in their zone, score first and then take it from there.
We shook off the wobbles from the last few minutes of the 1st half well and the first 15 minutes of the second spell saw us regularly pressuring Grammar with more territory and long periods of possession. After some long phase play Grammar’s defence was eventually broken down and, Te Rae Watene, drove over for a nicely taken try next to the posts. At 10 - 7 with 15 to go we were well in the fight and just needed to continue to execute the basics well.
Unfortunately, the next 15 mins was anything but well executed. From the restart after our try we knocked on a regulation catch at the kick off and gifted Grammar a penalty deep in our own territory. The resultant line out saw Grammar score out wide and then we had to start chasing the game as they squeezed out past the 7 point buffer. When we created opportunities, which we would usually nail, we let the pressure off with some poor execution at the set piece in particular. As we grew more frustrated Grammar found an extra leg and our defence struggled under the weight of possession we were gifting them. The bounce of the ball also seemed to evade us and Grammar scored 15 unanswered points to make the score line flatter them a bit. The boys will be disappointed with that last 15 minutes, but they can all be proud of the way they turned their season around after a shaky start to become genuine contenders at the end of the season. We wish the year 13 leavers all the best for their future rugby, and really hope to see the younger boys back in Kings Colours next year. Matt Hargraves was Man of the Match for a typically busy and physical game from our open side flanker.
6A 24 - 13 Sacred Heart College
Uncertainty reigned supreme amongst the King’s 6A side as discussions continued as to ascertain whether the King’s outfit had in fact progressed to the semi-final stages of the 6A competition after beating Sacred Heart College, 24-13 over the weekend at Sacred Heart.
With King’s going in to the match with 14 competition points and Sacred Heart on 18, the initial understanding was that King’s only needed to beat Sacred Heart by 8 points to deprive them a much-needed bonus point and continue through to knockout stages of the competition. However, after much discussion and communications with the administrative body, Auckland Rugby on the matter it was decided that Sacred Heart would progress based on technicalities.
The match itself, however, was one that exhibited the supreme flair of the King’s 6A outfit right across the park. From the barnstorming front rowers, Tate Chong (Greenbank, 9), Max Gilbert (Peart, 9) and Hugo Velvin (St Johns, 9), through to towering locks, Willem Winders (School, 9) and Will Iversen (Major, 9) across to the loose forward trio who have been a staple part of the 6A effort this year – ably led by captain Jamie Ogilvie (Averill, 9) through to Denver Olde (School, 10). Vice-captain, Daniel Chitty (School, 10) was exceptional off the kicking tee leading the team around the park and making sure to convert the hard earned pressure in to points, likewise Felix Spary (Selwyn, 9) in his first year at King’s made sure to make a statement directing the team around the park. Unlucky to miss out on the Under 15 set up, Spary will be looking to make sure he is noticed in the 2023 rugby season.
Coach of 6A, Raniera Harrison (Parnell, 2004-2007) says that Spary has the skill set to go all the way at King’s. Harrison said “although this is only my first year coaching rugby at King’s".
Two spectacular tries from standout second five-eighths, Parekaahu Keepa kept the King’s train rolling through the swampy playing surfaces at Sacred Heart. Keepa (Parnell, 9) only joined the 6A team three weeks ago answering a desperate call from Teacher of Te Reo Māori and Head Coach, Raniera Harrison (Parnell, 2004-2007) following a string of concussions and a number of the squad away at Ahuroa Camp. His performance in crucial situations was helpful in securing the necessary go-forward ball required. Coach, Louie Whata (Greenbank, 2016-2020) says Parekaahu is a prime asset for King’s rugby. “He’s great. [Parekaahu] has a good head on his shoulders and I would expect him to do well and go far in the King’s system” said Whata.
The King’s 6A captain, Jamie Ogilvie (Averill, 9), who has also been in fine form following a spectacular showing in previous weeks, and fellow blindside flanker, Oliver Poppellwell (Parnell, 9) also performed at a high-level showing the coaches why his omission from selection was a critical mistake. Poppellwell, who carried for a game-high 78 metres was named Man of the Match for his outstanding performance in his first start of the 6A season.
The King’s outfit will regather this week to assess and debrief what has been a splendid season albeit the bittersweet ending with a win that did not culminate in a semifinal berth. The 6A team would like to thank all parents and supporters over the last three months who have kept the team in good running order. The team looks forward to a more detailed report at the end of the season.
Tries: Parekaahu Keepa 2 (Parnell, Y9) Max Gilbert (Peart, Y9)
Daniel Chitty (School, 10) Pen: 1 Con: 3