1st XV 12 vs 27 De La Salle
The First XV concluded their 2023 1A campaign with a 12-27 defeat against De La Salle College in a thrilling local derby at King’s College on Saturday. Two tries in the final five minutes blew the scoreboard out for the visitors and the final tally wasn’t a true reflection of how close the game was.
De La Salle, who qualified for the semi-finals in the 1A, are one of the form teams in the competition and pushing them close shows the potential the young King’s First XV has.
King’s made a promising start on Saturday with an early try to vice-captain Oliver Hatch (Year 13, Major) following a successful lineout drive. The visitors wasted little time in hitting back and then pulled ahead 5-12 after they scored again in the 21st minute.
But King’s didn’t drop their heads and continued to push for points with first five Daniel James-Nanai (Year 13, School) and No 12 Dillon Vaoga (Year 13, Averill) running with purpose with ball in hand, while halfback Marco Miln (Year 11, Selwyn) was heavily involved.
Following a James-Nanai break, King’s secured strong field position and it eventually turned into points as wing James Ford (Year 13, Parnell) scored in the corner before fullback Luca Fuller added the extras to tie things up at 12-all heading to halftime.
The early stages of the second spell were incredibly tight until De La Salle broke the deadlock with a try in the 54th minute. King’s had their chances as the game wore on but they weren’t able to make the most of their opportunities as turnovers proved costly.
Flanker Johan Schaumkell (Year 11, School) was everywhere in one of his best individual performances of the season, while Ethan Ola (Year 11, Averill) marked his capping game when he came on at halftime in his return from injury.
The contest was still in the balance as the clock ticked past 65 minutes, but De La Salle scored twice in the final stages to put their stamp on the fixture. The result left King’s in ninth place on the 1A ladder.
King’s captain Levi Gwynne (Year 13, Parnell) said the team were grateful for the support they received this year. “I’d like to personally thank all the supporters that have come out and supported us throughout the season, week in and week out.”
With their 1A duties complete, the team will have a short break before playing in an independent schools’ tournament that will be hosted at King’s. The First XV will meet St Andrew’s College from Christchurch on Monday 28 August before tackling St Paul’s Collegiate School from Hamilton on Wednesday 30 August, and they will round out the tournament against Christ’s College on Friday 1 September.
2nd XV 0 vs 43 De La Salle
The 2nd XV travelled over the railway tracks to De La Salle for their 2nd to last competition game of the season. The side had a few injuries which gave other players an opportunity to step up and play against our closest rivals. The conditions were perfect with the sun out and the field firm and dry. King’s dominated the first 10 minutes of play attacking the De La Salle line hard and creating try scoring opportunities which unfortunately they didn’t take.
15 minutes in, De La Salle finally got some possession and territory from King’s bad discipline, and they scored through some hard running. This was the beginning of the flood gates opening and the game jumped out to 20 nil at half time with 3 more De La Salle tries. The team had no answer or resilience in defence and despite trying hard on attack in the second half, De La Salle’s domination of the contact and breakdown shut down any possible try scoring opportunities.
The game ending at 43-0 in favour to home side. This was by far the team’s worst performance of the year, they now have to get up for a bottom of the table clash at home against Wesley College to end the season, this week.
1R 10 vs 30 Sacred Heart College
For our top of the table clash with Sacred Heart College, the weather was perfect and the field firm and conducive for being able to play an expansive game.
The start of the match was a real arm-wrestle with both sides unable to create any breaks. Sacred Heart rugby has always been renowned for its forward play and their 1R team certainly tested our forward pack throughout the match. Our decision making was at times – poor, and our discipline was lacking at crucial times throughout the match. The SHC kicker converted two penalties early in the first half, before Louie Ballan (Year 13, Parnell) kicked one penalty for us to close the gap. Charlie Hunn (Year 13, St John’s) was yellow-carded for a high tackle and while he was in the bin, SHC scored a try out wide and when the halftime whistle blew, SHC led by 11 – 3.
SHC extended their lead in the second half to 17 – 3 with two further penalty goals, before we gained some momentum and started playing with more accuracy and purpose. Our pressure resulted in a well-taken try to No 8 – Nick Dingley (Year 13, Selwyn) that was converted by Ballan and we were able to ‘stay in the race’, only behind by 7 points with around 15 minutes remaining in the match. The last quarter of the match, however, was where we let ourselves down as SHC were again able to score a converted try when we fell off tackles and then our discipline let us down and SHC closed out the match with two further penalties to end the game deserved 30 – 10 winners. This was a tough defeat as we had prepared well and had good momentum going into the match.
We will need to dust ourselves off quickly and prepare for an even bigger challenge next Saturday as we travel across to AGS for the last round-robin match, the winner of that game gaining the home advantage for the semi-final the following weekend. We are both guaranteed to finish 2nd and 3rd, so whichever team wins will host the semi-final the following weekend and the other team will have to travel.
5A 12 vs 32 Auckland Grammar School
With a bye in our final round, the King’s College 5A played the old foes on their home turf, the narrow pohutakawa-shaded number two field. The home advantage was evident throughout, and while 5A played with pluck and courage from the opening to the closing whistle, Grammar were always two steps ahead. In the forwards Tommy Farag (Year 11, School) carried well and was rewarded with a good try in the first half, while Daniel Chitty (Year 11, School) controlled the game well from halfback. King’s narrowed the game to 12-15 after a fortuitous Henry Taylor (Year ) try but two late tries blew the score out in the host’s favour and our season, full of close losses, was finally at an end. The team finished with a points differential of -35 which belies the closeness of games in which they only won one of their six competition games. Thanks to all the parental and grand-parental support throughout the season.
U15A 33 vs 12 Dilworth School
King’s U15A were forced to make late changes due to illness but knew the importance of a win at home with such an even U15A competition between the top 6 teams. King’s wanted to move the big Dilworth team around and speed up the game however continuous slow scrum resits would often slow all momentum.
King’s started well and looked like scoring 3 times in the first 10 minutes however poor hands and an unawarded try would keep the score nil all. After 12 minutes a nice lineout steal from Bassy Tupou (Year 10, Marsden) would allow King’s to stretch Dilworth’s defence. Dilworth would kick to clear however a regather and nice pass from Leewes Natana-Hemara (Year 9, St John’s) to impressive Charlie Burn (Year 11, School) would see Charlie out sprint the opposition and score under the posts for Calvin Harris-Tavita (Year 10, Parnell) to add the conversion for a 7-nil lead. Not long after, King’s would press Dilworth’s try line and a great clearance from Ruka Smythe (Year 10, Parnell) to brainstorming Levick Nu'uausala (Year 10, Marsden) would see Levick barge over and score under the posts for again Calvin Harris-Tavita adding the points to extend King’s lead. Ill-discipline and poor hands would allow Dilworth to pressure our red zone and they would be rewarded with 7 points of their own. King’s were disappointed with their defensive effort and right from the kick off Saia Manu (Year 11, Averill) would put a big hit on a Dilworth catch receiver who would then turn over the ball. Dilworth would win the ball back but another poor kick would see Calvin Harris Tavita beat multiple defenders before passing to Saia Manu who would unselfishly pass to Karson Hawkins (Year 10, Parnell) to score out wide. Calvin added the conversion for a 21 - 7 half time score.
King’s would start the second well. From a scrum Calvin Harris-Tavita bamboozled the opposition to beat 3 players and score under the posts and kick his own conversion to further extend King’s lead. The next 10 minutes the game lost all its shape with continued errors, scrum resits and penalties. King’s would be awarded a penalty close to our try line and Matt Cunningham (Year 10, Greenbank) would tap and go and catch Dilworth players well inside the 10 metres however the referee did not award a further penalty and Dilworth would steal the ball at the ruck and after sustained pressure would finally score to move the game to 28 12 with 10 minutes to play. A fast short side clearance from our halfback to our open side flanker Charlie Burn would see Charlie again outsprint the opposition and score his second try of the game for a final score 33 - 12.
Upfront Charlie Burn was very impressive and was well supported by Levick Nu'uausala, Bassy Tupou, Loghan Pulotu-McCarthy (Year 11, Parnell), Tyler-Rex Samasoni-Tukuitonga (Year 10, Averill), Wyatt Empson (Year 10, St John’s), Jamie Ludbrook (Year 10, St John’s) and Rodney Winiata (Year 10, Parnell) to name a few. In the backs Calvin Harris-Tavita was always a threat and Ruka Smythe tried to continuously speed up the game. Saia Manu, Parekaahu Keepa (Year 10, Parnell), Leewes Natana-Hemara (Year 9, St John’s), Felix Spary (Year 10, Selwyn) and Karson Hawkins (Year 10, Parnell) also all played well in the backs.
With only one bonus point separating 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th on the points table the team will now regroup on Tuesday knowing they have a big challenge on Saturday playing against a very good Auckland Grammar team away.
Tries: Charlie Burn 2, Levick Nu'uausala, Karson Hawkins, Calvin Harris-Tavita
Conversion: Calvin Harris-Tavita 4
U15R 19 – 12 Auckland Grammar
After two big wins to start Term 3, the King’s 7A team faced their biggest challenge of the season so far against a confident Auckland Grammar side who were unbeaten in this grade for a number of years. After early morning rain, the weather was warm and perfect for rugby. The fact the game was on Field 1 only added to the anticipation amongst the sizeable crowd that gathered to support the teams.
After a very snappy warm up it seemed like nerves may get the better of King’s with the first half littered with uncharacteristic errors. Balls were dropped and King’s were regularly penalised. As a result, Grammar dominated possession and territory and only some exceptional defence kept them at bay. However, King’s couldn’t get out of their own half and eventually the Grammar pressure told with an unconverted try in the right corner. From the resulting kick off Grammar again came back strongly with their well organised forwards carrying strongly and their backs testing the King’s’ defence out wide, with Ollie Perry (Year 9, Marsden) and Charlie Rutherford (Year 9, School) making a number of strong tackles to halt Grammar attacks. In the forwards Harry Rutherford (Year 10, School) was noticeable for his work at the breakdown disrupting a number of Grammar attacks. King’s continued to defend well noticeably playing for each other and working as a team but the Grammar pressure finally told with a second try coming just before half time. The try was converted leaving the score 12-0 to Grammar at half time and King’s having a mountain to climb to get back into the game.
Whatever was said at half time clearly did the trick as the King’s boys came out firing in the second half. Jonty Batchelor (Year 9, Greenbank) started to control the game at 10, working well Hugh Smithies (Year 9, Parnell) at 12 to get some go forward in the midfield. Jarel Samasoni (Year 9, Averill) who came on at 15 also made a strong impact carrying well as King’s looked to play wider. In the forwards, Harry Rutherford was leading by example with a number of strong carries and defensive interventions and he was ably supported by Ed Duncan (Year 9, Greenbank). In a turnaround from the first half, it was King’s who were dominating territory and possession playing with pace and confidence and putting pressure on a Grammar side who were not used to being on the back foot. The first King’s’ try came after a long period of pressure with the King’s boys showing excellent ball retention on the Grammar line before Archie Gore (Year 9, Selwyn) powered over from the back of a ruck. The conversion was missed but at 12-5 King’s were right back in the game. Unfortunately, the ball was lost from the kick off and Grammar immediately put the pressure back on King’s.
The next five minutes is arguably where the game was won. King’s defended doggedly as Grammar retained possession but could not find a way through either with their forwards or their backs and eventually knocked on, resulting in a scrum to King’s. From then on it was all King’s as they worked their way back down the field before camping on the Grammar try line. Strong defence kept them at bay but eventually the pressure told and Harry Rutherford drove over underneath a pile of bodies to bring the score within two. Jonty Batchelor converted and the scores were level with 10 minutes to go. Despite a number of nervous crowd members encouraging them to kick the ball long to ease pressure King’s held on to the ball for phase after phase in their own half slowly getting behind Grammar and keeping the pace high by taking tap penalties rather than kicking for touch. King’s went close again but unfortunately the ball was dislodged as the try was about to be scored. From the resulting Grammar scrum a strong carry from the Grammar 12 was halted by Jonty Batchelor who stripped the ball in the tackle and put King’s back on the attack in the Grammar 22.
King’s came close on a number of occasions before Caleb Stephens (Year 9, Greenbank) finally got the try to put King’s ahead. With the try converted King’s led 19-12, however the referee indicated that there was still 4 minutes to go. Grammar got the ball back from the kick off and launched wave after wave of attack against a King’s defence which refused to buckle however, Grammar were awarded a penalty for offside which was kicked to the corner. There were a number of stories doing the rounds about Grammar’s 15-man lineout drive when close to the line so the crowd braced themselves for the worst, but King’s refused to be beaten and challenged the lineout resulting in a knock on by Grammar and the final whistle. Cue much celebration for King’s and dejection for Grammar.
The team remains unbeaten and with one week of the regular season to go it is likely that these two teams will meet again in the Grade final.
Tries: Archie Gore, Harry Rutherford, Caleb Stephens
Conversions: Jonty Batchelor x 2
6A 29 - 5 MacLeans
At heart, rugby is a very simple game. You play with the ball and if you have the ball it’s very difficult for the opposition to score.
The first half was the best rugby of the year by the side. Captain Sam Coulter (Year 10, Averill) won the toss and opted to play down the slope. The side had a very basic game plan of possession, and the excellent ball retention of the forwards gave half back Rafe Parore (Year 10, St John’s) the most comfortable half of rugby he has had all season.
The pressure built and after 24 minutes Arch Kennedy (Year 11, St John’s) showed great anticipation to kick ahead and dot down the first try. Shortly after, James Shaw (Year 10, School) punched a hole in the defence and scored the second try.
Half-time: Kings 10 - 0 Macleans
The game was effectively won in the first 2 minutes of the second half after Josh Want (Year 10, Major) scored after a barnstorming run. 15 -0 up and 28 minutes left. The team then went to sleep. Macleans fought back and scored a try in the 11th minute to reduce the deficit to 10 points. The next 10 minutes were all Macleans and only the Don Clark style kicking of Barney ‘Big Boot’ Foote (Year 10, Averill) saw King’s escape from their 22.
However, the team survived the onslaught and Josh Want scampered off on another ‘Benny Hill esq’ run and scored with 5 minutes left to give King’s breathing space. The scoring was rounded off by a try to our human bulldozer, Ollie Kittle (Year 11, Parnell), who broke a number of tackles and scored a deserved try. Both tries were converted by Finn Jones (Year 10, Parnell).
Onto the last round robin against Botany Downs. Let’s hope it’s not the last game.
Tries: Josh Want x2, James Shaw, Ollie Kittle, Arch Kennedy
Conversions: Finn Jones x2
Player of the Day: James Shaw