With only five of last year’s team that played in the same competition, it did not bode well. It is, therefore, a credit to the tenacity and resilience of the boys that they did so well in coming 4th in the Great Auckland Regional competition.
Highlights on the day were the sound defeat handed out to Saint Kentigern College 8-5, and the highly entertaining style of play that saw us score 25 tries in the five games.
King’s started against a gutsy Alfriston College, ex-National Champions, in the mixed grade who have now specialised in the single-sex competition. This went right down to the hooter and a last dive from Oliva Mason sealed the win 7-6. Other try scorers in the game were Bailyn Sullivan, Samuel Reid, Ciarahn Matoe and Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo scoring a hat-trick!
Next up was pre-tournament favourites, Sacred Heart College, who were less potent than we anticipated but had a solid defence and held us to only two tries. Lukas Halls scored our opener with a lovely dummy and scooted 45 metres to the tryline with a bone-jarring dive to finish. Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo retained his incredible strike rate in scoring our other. The 2-4 loss was quite disappointing as we allowed three tries in with just silly errors as new system’s were being learned by some of the new combinations of players.
The Saint Kentigern College game became our focus and the team responded magnificently. After trailing 1-3 early in the game, five second half tries, with two rippers coming from Millenium Sanerivi, were enough to sink our archrivals 8-5. Other tries were scored by Moses Puru, Ciarahn Matoe, Marzellus Salaivao, Matthieu Olo-Whaanga (in his first games for our senior Touch team) and Edward Vaeau-Mulitalo managed to keep his perfect strike-rate scoring two as well.
We then played a very impressive Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) team who had talent across the park, but also played an entertaining and flowing style of touch. The 5-10 scoreline is an accurate reflection of both teams' attacking prowess, but also reflected why MAGS was able to win this Regional tournament, as they were the best opponents we faced. We were able to score some great tries, courtesy of Marzellus Salaivao (who threw his body around and dived in for two great tries), Ciarahn Matoe who also scored two and Millenium Sanerivi who scored the last one.
The final game was against joint leaders, St Paul's College who had drawn with MAGS to be equal top. Both teams were fairly exhausted after the full day, but at half-time the game was poised evenly at 1-1. Vaeau-Mulitalo opened the scoring (his seventh try in the tournament) after accepting a lovely inside pass from Moses Puru and showing a clean-pair-of-heels to the chasers. The game remained even, 3-3, with a few minutes remaining, only to succumb near the end to finally go down 3-5. Second half tries were scored by Bailyn Sullivan and Matthieu Olo-Whaanga.
Overall, King’s should be very proud of their performance and final standings. The first three teams qualified for Nationals and this means we may be waiting on being identified for a wild card, which would be more than deserving after doing so well with so many players missing. Regardless of Nationals, credit and acknowledgement needs to be made of the team leaders (Ciarahn Matoe and Moses Puru) for maintaining the team environment under telling conditions, and special mention to Luke Tuhaka who turned up on the day, never having trained with the team, and filled in well on the wing.