The King’s College 1R squad have made a most encouraging start in the National Under 85kg College Rugby Tournament, here at the Campus of Innovation and Sport, in Lower Hutt, Wellington.
The team played twice, running out as convincing winners on both occasions.
Game 1 vs Heretaunga/St Patrick’s (Silverstream) Combination XV:
Result: King's College win 50 – 0 (26 – 0 Half Time).
Tries: Dom Lunjevich (Year 12, Averill), Johnny Wilson (Year 11, Parnell) (2), Fin Olde (Year 13, School), Charlie Hunn (Year 13, St. John’s) (2), Oliver Wright (Year 13, Marsden), Matt Hargrave (Year 12, Major). Conversions: Jackson Brown (Year 12, Peart) (4), and Charlie Hunn (1).
Game 2 vs St Patrick’s College (Town):
Result: King's College win 35 – 7 (21 – 0 Half Time).
Tries: Blake Hayes (Year 12, St John’s), Sacha Föenander (Year 12, School), Jackson Brown (2), Johnny Wilson.
Conversions: Louie Ballan (Year 13, Parnell) (5).
The forwards enjoyed a Scrummaging Clinic, with the Wellington RFU coaches and the whole squad was shown around some of the amazing facilities here at the NZCIS, during which, they met Aiden Morgan (Old Collegian - 2019), who currently plays for both the Wellington Lions or the Hurricanes franchise.
The King’s College 1R Squad, continued on their quest for success today, and posted two more victories to their tally.
On another bright morning, in the nation’s fair capital city, the squad of young gentlemen representing Auckland’s finest educational establishment, enjoyed a leisurely start to the day with a healthy breakfast, including porridge and poached eggs, and proceeded to make something of a meal of the two matches they played in, in the next few hours.
First up, at 11.30am was Glendowie College (from Auckland), who, like King’s, were unbeaten on day one. King’s were confident and Glendowie were buoyant. It was a scrappy and somewhat tense game, with both teams giving everything and making numerous errors in the process. The half-time score was 12 – 5 with the talismanic Kingsman, Nick Dingley, crossing the whitewash twice and Louie Ballan converting just one of the tries.
The second half was no less nerve-jangling, with Glendowie scoring a converted try and levelling the score (12 - 12), within a few minutes of the restart. This spurred the KC boys on to play just enough effective rugby, to post the winning score, with Mr Dingley collecting a hat-trick for his troubles.
Final score: King's College 17 – 12 Glendowie College
After the first of the day’s encounters, Mr Williams quietly and clearly identified the areas which needed improvement and politely requested that the boys “reset the mechanism” and never talk of that performance again…
At 12.30pm, the second of the day’s fixtures kicked off, with King’s College, this time taking on Wellington College. This was the toughest test so far. With the increasing pressure came further errors, but also, some flashes of brilliance. With both teams giving it “the berries” and with just one penalty goal (courtesy of unerring boot of Louie Ballan), separating them at half-time, they headed for the sheds, at 3 – 0.
The following 15 minutes saw both teams reset the battle lines and once again, go at it “hammer and tongs”. The ball travelled from end to end and coast to coast, with King’s snatching a try through some excellent teamwork and handling, and exquisite finishing by Sacha Föenander. (8 – 0 King’s). However, Welly struck back fast and hard and with score line of 8 – 5, they had their tails up and the wind behind them. The Wellington boys hammered the King’s defences and camped in the scoring zone for what felt like hours… but the ramparts held and The King’s Castle remained standing. Wellington coughed up possession and King’s pounced, ground their way up field and Jackson Brown, gave a virtuoso performance of “naughty feet” and illusive pace, to slice, step and then glide through the opposition defence to finish the game with a wonderful score. He converted his own try from in front of the sticks and it was all over.
Final score: King's College 15 – 5 Wellington College
King’s face the 'Auld Enemy', Sacred Heart College, in the semi-final the next morning.
The tension is building, and the pressure is definitely on and we get one chance to do this… It’s time to strap on the big-boy boots and pull it all together…. This is one of the reasons why we play this wonderful game.
Semifinal vs Sacred Heart College:
This was a high-octane, winner-goes-forward, loser-goes-home, encounter… There was history… bragging-rights to take and scores to settle. Sacred Heart had beaten King’s in the final of this competition last year and are the 2023, Auckland Region, 1R Champions. The boys from both teams were clearly up for it.
The first half was frantic. Sacred Heart were clinical, creating opportunities and taking their chances well. They scored a well worked try early on (but missed the conversion), and King’s gave away one too many penalties within the Sacred Heart kicker’s range and he slotted a Penalty Goal just before half-time… King’s were only just hanging on… but we were still in the game.
"We are still in this! Look after the ball in contact. Stay in the fight at the breakdown. Go to meet them in defence – 'Chop & Smash'. Do the basics… well… and be accurate. Be aggressive. Do your job!"
The second half was no less hectic… (in fact it provided the most intense moments of the tournament for us), and the King’s players were about to take themselves to a level which they had not reached previously this season. The magnitude and finality of the situation had clearly dawned on the boys and things just clicked. Passes stuck, the lads looked to keep the ball alive, use their teammates at the right time, showing patience, accuracy and great rugby intelligence. The timing and decision-making was “on point”, and the team hit their straps. With continued pressure being applied, Sacred Heart were forced to make mistakes in key positions and it was Louie Ballan’s chance to show his kicking skills, stepping up and landing a crucial Penalty Goal to put King’s back in the fight.
Time however, was ticking by and with 2 minutes left on the clock, we were still 3-8 in deficit. The KC 1Rs got into the Sacred Heart 22 and switched to “Fight Mode”, picking from the base and grinding their way further into the scoring zone. We camped on the Sacred Heart try line and battered their defences… maintaining possession; relentlessly probing, thrusting and pounding, until Bailey Harris (Year 12, St John's) spotted the smallest of gaps and propelled himself into and through it, breaching the tackle line and in doing so, taking the souls of the entire Sacred Heart team, with what can only be referred to as the “try of the season”, which put us into the Final!!!
The scenes were euphoric and the relief… massive! You had to be there to appreciate the emotion.
Sacred Heart were beaten, the bogey was dispatched… King’s were going to the Final and they were going home… they were understandably disappointed, but we had wanted it more and we had hung in there and made it happen!
Final Score: King's College 10 - 8 Sacred Heart
The Final vs St. Patrick’s College:
Cometh the Hour… Cometh the man. The time was here and The young Kingsmen stepped into the breach…and gave blood, sweat & tears and earned scars… for King’s and The Crown!
The final was 20 minutes each way and that alone, on the back of 150 long and bruising minutes of rugby over the previous 48 hours, was a challenge, but, the adrenalin kicked in and the lads raised themselves, for one more outing… the last time many of them would ever wear the King’s College rugby shirt, in a competitive setting!
(What a way to go out!)
To be honest, the Final went by in a bit of a blur… the aging coaches’ energy was waning and the emotions were at a critical level… (Mr Williams was as quiet as I’ve seen him, to date).
In the first half, the boys looked fatigued and the emotional outpouring experienced after dispatching Sacred Heart, had taken its toll. The environment was a new one, and it was an eye-opening experience for many of the team.
Both teams got out of the blocks fast and the exchanges were rapid and the tackling ferocious. (It was clear that the referee was also feeling the pressure, as some of the calls were interesting, to say the least.) King’s soon found themselves 0-6 down after the St.Pat’s kicker capitalised on a couple of early indiscretions, committed deep in our own half, but after that, the KC brothers found their rhythm and once again, things started to fall into place.
Good decisions were made in the right areas and unselfish passing put strong runners into gaps which yielded healthy territorial gains. Louie Ballan heaped pressure on the St. Pats’ shoulders by landing a touchline penalty goal (3-6), signalling that giving away penalties, pretty much anywhere in their own half could to lead to King’s easily scoring points. That being said, not soon after the first points were posted by King’s, Sacha Föenander, struck again with some sublime finishing skills, to dot down in the right hand corner (8–6). Young Mr. Ballan’s metronomic place kicking added the conversion (10 – 6), and King’s were, once again, at the races. Another Ballan penalty put King’s into a 13 – 6 lead, and that would have been a healthy position to go into half time, but we decided to keep it interesting and give away a “silly penalty”, just before the break, giving St. Patricks a chance to pull back within snatching distance. The half time score was 13 – 9 and things were still, very much in the balance!
It was kept very simple in the huddle…
“Set Piece – Great… Keep it going. Louie Ballan – loving your work… keep knocking them over! Ill-discipline will cost us… Don’t give away (any more), silly penalties in our own half. We need to be closer in support, enabling increased accuracy at the breakdown, so STAY TIGHT in the pods! Continued strong defence is essential – 'Chop & Smash' – Don’t let them cross our line! You’ve got this – Believe in yourselves – Finish the job!”
The second half happened… with both teams firing some good shots, but none really landing or doing too much damage…. The majority of the second period was played between the two 22 lines with tiredness setting in after a long few days for both teams.
King’s scored a well worked try through some typically strong running form Charlie Hunn taking to score to 18 – 9 and St Patrick’s hit back with a try of their own after a period of pressure on the King’s line, but play was then halted for a significant period due to Harris Palmer suffering a nasty cut to his eye when St. Pat’s scored. At that point, the Hiss and Fizz of the game seemed to dissipate and at 18 – 14 and with only a few minutes to go, King’s had done enough to secure victory.
With the “last play" called by the referee, King’s secured possession and booted the ball clear, to signal the end of the game and the start of the celebrations… The boys had done it!
Final Score: King's 18 - 14 St Patrick's College
The team departed on Tuesday and had a pleasant road trip to Hastings after a lunch stop off at Lake Taupo observing the snow on the mountains in the distance while the temperature drop was felt by the boys. Entering and driving through the devastated outskirts of the Hawkes Bay and seeing the destruction left behind from Cyclone Gabrielle was a real eye-opener for the boys and sad to see.
Day 1 – Wednesday 30 August vs Rathkeale College (Masterton)
On a beautiful sunny day with perfect conditions for rugby and on a firm ground the U15A side opened the tournament with a convincing win.
Noah Moss (Year 9, Parnell) opened the scoring after finishing off some good phase play, to run around untouched. Bassy Tupou (Year 10, Marsden) showed his growth during the season as a prominent lineout forward and stole some early ball which saw Charlie Burn (Year 11, School) take advantage of the possession and cross for two quick tries and the teams confidence grew quickly. Matt Cunningham (Year 10, Greenbank) shortly after was rewarded with a try for supporting well and tries to Levick Nu’uausala (Year 10, Marsden) and Burn again saw the score at 42-0 at halftime, with Calvin Harris-Tavita (Year 10, Parnell) converting all 6 tries.
All eight changes were made in the second half to give all players a run. The side started the half slow, then again gained dominance to score 6 more tries and finish with an 82-0 win.
Tries: Charlie Burn 4, Matt Cunningham 2, Parekaahu Keepa (Year 10, Parnell) 2, Jamie Ludbrook (Year 10, St John's) 2, Noah Moss, Levick Nu’uausala. Conversions: Calvin Harris-Tavita 7, Matt Cunningham 4
Day 2 – Thursday 31 August vs St John’s College (Hastings)
On another stunning Hawkes Bay day the team again showed off their talent and ability to play open running rugby, to win extremely well 107-5. With all the squad again getting good game time and some nice individual tries from unsuspected players like Rodney Winiata (Year 10, Parnell), Christopher Hatch (Year 10, Major), Koby Schaumkel (Year 10, Selwyn) and not to forget Leewes Natana-Hemara (Year 9, St John's).
Tries: Burn 4, Nu’uausala 2, Cunningham 2, Hatch, Keepa, Winiata, Harris-Tavita, Smythe (Year 10, Parnell), Spary (Year 10, Selwyn), Ludbrook, Natana-Hemara, Schaumkel. Conversions: Harris-Tavita 10, Cunningham 1.
The team play their last round game tomorrow against Wanganui Collegiate to decide pool placings for the final day of play on Saturday.
Day 3 – Friday 31 August vs Wanganui Collegiate
Hastings has been turning on some beautiful weather for the Under-15 tournament which has allowed the team to play in good conditions and play running rugby all week. Wanganui Collegiate were Under-15 Central Region champs so we knew it would be a tough game.
The team started well with 2 quick tries, with Ollie Anderson (Year 9, Greenbank) showing his speed in a kick chase and to then turned over the ball for King’s to cross for their first try and then again shortly after with ball in-hand from long range to score himself. Noah Moss also wanting part of the action and would finish with a double showing some good finishing skills. Natana-Hemara starting at fullback had some nice touches with his passing, showing his ability to put away his outsides.
Some promising forward play from the pack and strong running from Bassy Tupou at lock and prop, Rodney Winiata saw them both cross the line in another convincing win 69-12
Tries: Burn 2, Moss 2, Anderson 2, Harris-Tavita 2, Tupou, Winiata, Natana-Hemara. Conversions: Harris-Tavita 6, Cunningham 1.
Day 4 - Saturday 1 September vs St Peter's Cambridge
The Under 15A Open team played in the final of the Williams & Kettle Cup at Lindisfarne College this morning against St Peter’s Cambridge and in a close contest with the game at 17-12 at halftime with King’s leading.
The team worked really hard in the second half and maintained their composure to win convincingly with the final score being 36-17. A fantastic achievement for this deserving team.
Tries: Moss 2, Natana-Hemara, Pulotu-McCarthy (Year 11, Parnell), Keepa, Burn. Conversions: Calvin Harris-Tavita 3
Independent Schools Competition
Last week, King’s first XV hosted the inaugural competition last week during Tournament Week. The scores are as follows:
Mon Aug 28th:
King’s 40-36 win over St Andrews; St Kents 50-28 win over Christs
Wed Aug 30th:
King’s 26-24 win over St Paul’s Collegiate; St Kents 33-28 win over St Andrews; Scots 24-14 win over Christs
Fri Sep 1st:
King’s 20-20 draw with Christs; St Paul’s Collegiate 29-19 win over St Andrews; St Kents 53-12 win over Scots.
The following players made their debuts for the 1st XV over the week:
Zion Savaka (Year 11, Peart), Ryan Young (Year 11, Parnell), and Christian Collins (Year 11, Major)