A strong finish to a tough tournament saw King’s College win its final two games to win the Bowl section.
Being drawn in the ‘pool of death’ put further pressure on the King’s team, which was already decimated by a Thailand rugby tour defection, two injuries (Lukas Halls and Millenium Sanerivi), Jonah Lowe attending an ITM Cup training camp, as well as a very limited preparation based on exams and availability. This said, the King’s team pulled in four junior players, managed to take two injured players who bravely soldiered through in Marzellus Salaivao and Trent Tipene, and relied on the lads to show a bit of resilience over the three-day competition.
King’s College ended up winning the Bowl – the third tier knock-out (behind the Cup and the Plate) with solid wins on the finals day over Tauranga Boys' High School and Matamata College.
Day one saw us start against the much fancied St Patrick’s College Silverstream. The 3-3 half-time score set up an exciting finish but defensive errors on the outsides cost us dearly and a few late tries sunk our hopes. For King’s, three tries were scored by Te Raukura Hawke, Kereama Mio-Romana and Shelford Murray, who just burnt the opposition for pace.
We started strongly against Christchurch Boys' High School with first half tries to Leo Roa, Te Raukura Hawke and Trent Tipene to lead 3-2 at half-time. Again we capitulated in the second half with only a try to Ashley Tuia while the opposition piled on five.
Finally, on day one we played equal competition favourites, Rotorua Boys' High School and played by far our best touch. The lads were immensely brave, though well down on the fire-power of the opposition, and at 3-3 just before half-time, we again were looking solid. Tries for King’s were scored by Johannes Leituala who scored two diving efforts on the right of the field and Weropuna Witika diving into the left hand corner. However, five unanswered tries in the second half reaffirmed the high standard of play needed to win this tournament, and while results reflected badly, our quality of play had definitely improved during the day.
Day two further reflected this improvement with a great victory over historic high-fliers Palmerston North High School. We found ourselves leading 3-1 at half-time, courtesy of tries to Shelford Murray, Marzellus Salaivao and Leo Roa. We again lost the second half (three tries to two) but held on for a great win over our previous ‘bogey’ team 5-4. Second half tries were scored by Leo Roa and Moses Puru.
We were then blown off the field by a much fired up Westlake Boys' High School team who were just more energetic and made less mistakes. The 10-3 scoreline was our worst and certainly acted to motivate and re-focus ourselves thereafter. Scorers for King’s were Te Raukura Hawke, Kereama Mio-Romana and a 60 metre intercept by Moses Puru.
The final game of the second day was a ripper, with the lead constantly changing hands and both teams (Whangarei Boys' High School and ourselves) intent on moving the ball. The 3-3 half-time moved to 5-4 to King’s with two minutes to play, only for a last minute resurgence from the opposition to steal it on the hooter. A great game and some fine tries. Three tries were scored off Jonah Refiti scooping and long passing to free men – the recipients being Marzellus Salaivao, Johannes Leituala and Shelford Murray. Kiamana Keepa scored after Shelford Murray did a similar scoop himself and Ashley Tuia scored off a set move, attacking the opposition corners.
This positioned us in the Bowl competition and plenty to play for. First up, in pouring rain and at 8.00am on Sunday, we played Matamata College. The game might have been played in sunshine, such was the desire to move the ball and 'have a go'. The weather certainly evened the game up as King’s was by far the better team, but the 6-5 victory margin was sufficient to put the boys into the final.
Tauranga Boys' High School, a proud touch school, was blown away by the King’s aggression and accuracy on defence. They got a consolation try in the final minutes, but were basically held scoreless throughout. King’s College's four tries were scored by Kiamana Keepa, Jonah Refiti (who just had too much pace up the centre of the field), Te Raukura Hawke and Moses Puru.
A satisfying end to a reasonable tournament, and at least a claim to some silverware in the form of the Bowl. It was also an excellent opportunity for the younger players who will no doubt grow from this incredible experience, even if it was a little of ‘throwing them in at the deep end’.
King’s Player of the Tournament was awarded to the very deserving, hard-working and talented, Jonah Refiti.
A big thank you to the parents who braved the terrible weather to support their sons, to Mrs Louise Putt for the ham rolls and help offered, and mostly to the brave players who committed everything over the three days. Farewell to the Year 13 players; some were here at the inception of touch at the College and have been a huge part of its growth and success to date.
Te Raukura Hawke ©, Ashley Tuia, Shelford Murray, Jonah Refiti, Moses Puru, Kereama Mio-Romana, Trent Tipene, Johannes Leituala, Kiamana Keepa, Lukan Paitai-Tuiatua, Weropuna Witika, Leo Roa, Marzellus Salaivao.