First XV 15 - 17 Mount Albert Grammar School
The First XV suffered a heart-breaking 15-17 defeat to Mount Albert Grammar School in their 1A fixture on Saturday. Holding a slender 15-14 lead with time up on the clock, King’s conceded a penalty, which MAGS slotted from close-range as they snatched the victory with the final act of the game.
Driving rain and windy conditions at MAGS made life tough for both sides who did well to adapt to the wintery weather. This game marked a noted improvement from the First XV who were unlucky to come away with only a solitary bonus point for their efforts. The defence was much tighter than previous weeks and the backs ran with purpose when given the opportunity with fullback Luca Fuller (Year 13, Selwyn) and first five Daniel James-Nanai (Year 13, Parnell) impressing. Halfback Marco Miln (Year 11, Selwyn) brought plenty of energy, while blindside flanker Ethan Ola (Year 11, Averill) made some strong carries, and lock Jacob Carter (Year 11, School) had an impact at lineout time.
Starting slowly cost the First XV for the third game on the bounce as they were behind 0-7 within a few minutes before lock Thomas Williams (Year 13, School) scored with Fuller adding the extras to level the ledger. A penalty from Fuller saw King’s take a 10-7 lead to the break as they made the most of playing with the wind at their backs. The home side scored early in the second spell to wrestle back the advantage, but King’s hit the front with 20 minutes left as centre TJ Anae-Paila (Year 11, School) grabbed a five-pointer.
One point was always going to be a tough margin to protect though and both sides missed kicks at goal in the tricky weather during the second half before MAGS eventually made it count in the dying stages.
With regular skipper Levi Gwynne (Year 13, Parnell) missing as he recovered from a nasty facial cut suffered against Kelston Boys’ High School in the previous game, hooker Oliver Hatch (Year 13, Major) captained the team. “Really proud of the effort the boys put in,” Hatch said. “Just showed a lot of ticker throughout the whole game from start to finish and I’m happy with the performance.”
King’s will host Dilworth School in their next match on Saturday with the game set to start at 2.30pm. Hatch said the improved showing against MAGS provided a good foundation for their next match, but they needed to go to another level. “Generally, just being a bit more accurate when we have the ball in hand.”
Second XV 3 v 12 Mount Albert Grammar School
In wet conditions at Mt Albert Grammar the 2nd XV started the game with all the possession and dominated territory, taking the wind in the first half. They created many opportunities to score but poor skill execution at crucial times let them down and they went in half time only 3-0 up with what was probably a 20 point wind.
MAGS used the wind immediately and forced errors from the King’s back three who allowed MAGS to capitalise early in the second half after their first time in our 22, scoring a taking a 7-3 lead.
Despite having a lot of ball and the set piece starting to find parity in the second half. King’s lack the accuracy and did not adapt well enough in the conditions turning the ball over time and time again on attack. Charlie Burn looked dangerous with the ball in hand and Spencer Capper showed good speed and agility at times beating the MAGS defence. MAGS again showed important is to covert pressure into points and although they did not spend much time inside the King’s 22 they scored when they did enter the red zone. A final score of 12-3 and a game of missed opportunities for King’s.
1R 20 - 8 Mount Albert Grammar School
Played in atrocious conditions on their #2 field that was very wet and boggy, our team travelled to MAGS with the intention to play disciplined and controlled rugby and hopefully come away with a positive result.
Having won the toss, we chose to play with the elements at our back, aiming to use the wind and rain to our advantage and build up a strong halftime lead before turning around to play into the elements. Despite having the majority of field position and more than half of the possession, we were unable to break their defence and turned around at halftime only 6 – 0 up, grace of two Louie Ballan (Year 13, Parnell) penalties.
At halftime, I told the boys that we would have to ‘roll up our sleeves’ and try to hold onto the ball, because if we turned it over, we would find ourselves stuck back down inside our own 22m and having to defend the MAGS onslaught. And so it was; MAGS scored an early try and followed that up with a penalty to race out to an 8 – 6 lead. However, this seemed to spark something in our team and the lads slowly started getting into their work, playing patient football and holding onto the ball for multiple phases. I really must commend the forward pack in particular, for their work in the second half, coupled with some intelligent football from the backline.
Despite playing into very challenging elements, we were making all the play and spent the majority of the second half down their end of the field. The forwards put together a string of pick’n goes inside their 22m and Hooker – Fin Olde (Year 13, School) was rewarded with a fantastic try that was created by the team. Louie Ballan was able to convert and we now held a 13 - 8 lead. MAGS tried time and again, to breach our defensive line, but our boys were determined to shut them out. Another raid into their half saw Balan finish off a great team movement and then proceeded to convert it to give us a commanding 20 – 8 lead with 10 minutes left to play.
MAGS threw everything at us but our defence was staunch and we shut out the game to come away with an outstanding result against the strongest opposition in our pool. I was delighted with the way the boys showed some ‘steel’, particularly in the second half and we now look forward to travelling to Grammar next Saturday to take on their B team in our third and final non-championship match.
5A 12 v 17 Auckland Grammar
Wet and windy conditions greeted both teams in this wonderful opportunity to play on the No 1 field. The first half was initially dominated by Grammar but King’s 5A held their line for fifteen minutes before two tries were scored in quick succession to see us down 0-10. A good quick tap by Toi Whatuira (Year 12, St John's) led to a try out wide to Nico Eady (Year 11, Marsden) after a good wrap around with Theo Owen (Year 11, Peart).
Half time: 5-10.
The second half was one of frustration as poor discipline and execution constantly undermined our efforts. Another Grammar try was converted and a late try to Toi Whatuira saw a shared second half and a final score of 12-17.
6A 10 - 16 St Peters
Tries - Hugo Old (Year 10, School), Josh Want (Year 10, Major)
Player of the Day - Sam Coulter (Year 10, Averill)
This game was played in autumn/winter weather, which should not be a surprise as rugby is a winter code. The game was won by the side that made the best decisions, which unfortunately was the opposition.
King’s played the first half into a strong wind which even the King’s ‘new knee’ triplets of Karpik, Patel and Williams, would have been able to kick the length of the field. The players defended stoutly and there were excellent tackle clinics from Kasey Lewis (Year 10, Greenbank), Sam Coulter, Hugo Old and Jack Jamison (Year 10, Peart) . Our defensive systems worked well, and we restricted SPC to a single try. However, our failure to come away with any points when on attack in the 22 for 5 minutes was to prove crucial.
Half-time: King’s 0 - SPC 5
With the wind behind, the howls of “NOOOOOO” from the King’s coaches which greeted our decision to run the ball from inside our 22, would be the soundtrack to the half. As a wise man once said: ‘Use the weather to your advantage, as it can change.’ So, short of extra time in the chapel thanking the big man upstairs for the wind and seeking forgiveness for not using it, that was the lesson for our team.
The second half and the game turned on the decision by SPC to take an easy 3 points in front of the posts when they were in our 22. At 8-0 down, the King’s boy’s showed some good ticker and a try in the corner for Josh Want (Year 10, Major) who had survived losing his boots, frustrating his parents and then finding them where he left them, brought the score back to 5-8.
Game on? No. The resultant kick off was not dealt with and SPC took the opportunity to score a second try to make the score 5-13. Two visits to King’s 22 into the wind and 2 scores. The King’s boys had 14 minutes to win the game. Effort. Tick. Guts. Tick. Heart. Tick. Decision making. X.
At the third time of asking, Hugo Old dived over for a try in the corner and the last 5 minutes was ‘helter skelter’. King’s, however, could not find the ‘magic moment’ required to win the game.
Full-time: King’s 10 - SPC 13
U15A 9 v 16 St Peter’s
King’s U15A were fortunate to be playing at home for our second week in a row against St Peter’s. Unable to train on Thursday and with low numbers to our Captains run due to sickness we were expecting a real challenge especially given the conditions.
With the start of the game along came the rain and a strong breeze. The first quarter was a real battle with both teams struggling to gain their dominance. St Peter’s would score first out wide, King’s would not be too happy with our effect on the short side. The next few minutes King’s were starting to play some good rugby and our effort was rewarded with a penalty kick to Calvin Harris-Tavita. King’s again struggled with the kick receive and St Peter’s were able to charge down our exit kick and score in the corner for a 10 3 lead.
The rest of the first half was all King’s, we created our opportunities but were unable to convert our dominance into points. Our high error rate and poor decision making at times would mean we were only able to add another penalty kick to our score, again to Calvin Harris-Tavita (Year 10, Parnell), for a 10 6 half time led to St Peter’s.
The second half was another real arm wrestle, Calvin Harris-Tavita was able to put early points on the board with another penalty kick. The only other points of the second half were two late penalties to St Peter’s for a final score of 16 9. King’s defensive effort could not be questioned, there were some BIG tackles throughout the game and our scrambling defence would hold out St Peter’s on more than one occasion.
Upfront hardworking Wyatt Empson (Year 10, St John’s House), Bassy Tupou (Year 10, Marsden), Loghan Pulotu-McCarthy (Year 11, Parnell) and Jamie Ludbrook (Year 10, Major) had big games while Dayton Ng Wun (Year 10, Greenbank) impressed in the second half. In the backs our 9 and 10, Ruka Smythe (Year 10, Parnell) and D’Angelo Tupou (Year 11, Parnell), along with our impressive midfield pairing of Parekaahu Keepa (Year 10, Parnell) and Felix Spary (Year 10, Selwyn) would all have a high work rate and strong defensive game while Leewes Natana-Hemara (Year 9, St John’s House) also defended well in the second half.
King’s will take away a lot of learnings from this game and if the ‘bounce of the ball’ went our way we could have easily been looking at another win. The team need to work hard on our accuracy, urgency, hard running and decision making while on attack. Next week does not get any easier with an important away game against MAGS however the team look forward to putting in a more complete performance.
Penalties – Calvin Harris-Tavita 3
U14A 17 v 20 MAGS
King’s College U14A suffered another close loss to Mount Albert Grammar School, MAGS U14A in our second competition match at May Road War Memorial Park on Saturday. King’s were in the hunt, hungry for a win with this match, and the opportunity was certainly there for the team to do so in the dying minutes of the second half with plenty of possession and territory.
The rain and the wind blowing from goalpost to goalpost set both teams strategising on how best to use this advantage. With the wind at their backs, kicking deep into our red zone to apply sustained pressure, MAGS put on two early unconverted tries in the first 15 minutes. After about 15 minutes of playing into the wind, the boys regained their composure and strung together some phase play for decent territorial advantage. Off quick-tapped ball off from a lineout penalty just beyond halfway, halfback Ricoh Wilson (Year 9, Greenbank) combined with openside flanker Finn Thompson (Year 9, Marsden) and inside backs Cale Ngatai (Year 9, Parnell) and Elijah Pathan (Year 9, Parnell) to set up two attacking rucks – the last from which ever-present No 8 Reid Thompson scored a driving pick-and-go try (unconverted) in the right corner. Full back Ollie Anderson (Year 9, Greenbank) and second five eights Robbie Dunn (Year 9, Marsden) brought play into MAGS 22 to set up a ruck. Quick distribution through the backs from this ruck set up fullback Ollie Anderson for a solo run to score an unconverted try in the opposite corner to even-out the halftime score to 10 each.
Playing with ‘the breeze’ in second spell, the rain decided to fall in buckets in the first part of the half, which suited MAGS big forwards who combined in short quick hit-ups to score an unconverted try close to the goalposts. After a period of sustained pressure forcing errors and attracting penalties, MAGS No.8 scored on a pick-and-go off the back of their scrum. The unconverted try took the score to 20–10. Against the play, first five eight Cale Ngatai intercepted a MAGS pass for a 40 metre sprint to then offload a great pass to second five eight Robbie Dunn who crashed over for a try that was converted by Ricoh Wilson. Taking advantage of a MAGS error, fullback Ollie Anderson carried the ball 25 metres to set up a ruck 4 metres from the MAGS tryline. Off the next phase ruck, Flanker Finn Thompson crashed over the tryline but was not rewarded with the try. Despite a re-energised King’s attack on their line, MAGS managed to stave off a last minute try for the win. So close but just not to be. Final score 20–17. A great team effort boys with a show of talent in patches from individual players. Loved the show of self-confidence and mad dash for the win at the end. We are growing as a team and also as players.
Back to the drawing board on Monday gentlemen. Virtus Pollet.
Tries – Ricoh (1) Ollie Anderson (1), Robbie Dunn (1)
Conversions - Cale (0/1) Ricoh (1/2)
U15 R 22 v 7 St Kent’s
Played in great winter conditions (wet and cold) so it was always going to be a battle upfront and the teams skill level and discipline would need to be high if we wanted to win. St Kents started strong and scored first and controlled the first 10 minutes of the game. Our forwards then started to get into their work and take control back, with Harry Lyus (Year 9, School), Rocco Van Velzen (Year 9, Marsden) and Archie Gore (Year 9, Selwyn) leading the way.
With the forwards starting to get control, we scored two good first half tries, the first to Harry Lyus and the second to the hard running Hugh Smithies (Year 9, Parnell), giving us a lead slight lead at half time 12-7.
The second half started better with the forwards working well as a pack with Ed Duncan (Year 9, Greenbank) and Harry Rutherford (Year 10, Greenbank) putting a lot of pressure on the St Kents backs. With the forwards providing a good platform, it gave the back space to run. Jonty Batchelor (Year 9, Greenbank) capitalised on this space by scoring a great solo try to start the scoring. Ollie Perry (Year 9, Marsden) reaped the benefits of the forwards hard work by scoring a great wingers try in the corner, after some hard running. Caleb Francis (Year 9, School) playing well in the midfield along with Charlie Rutherford (Year 10, Greenbank)who was solid on the wing after moving out from the centres.
The whole forward pack need to be congratulated for their hard work in the challenging conditions and providing the platform for the backs to score the tries.
Final score: 22-7