Wanganui region schoolboy teams left Palmerston North with no fewer than four trophies after they up-ended their more highly fancied opposition on a nail-biting Manawatu Secondary Schools finals day at Arena Manawatu on Saturday.
Following in the footsteps of Wanganui High School in 2013, City College 1st XV claimed the Premier 1 title with a shock 17-15 win over the undefeated Feilding High School 2nd XV in the main stadium.
Beaten 29-19 in these sides’ previous encounter, City College took a 7-5 lead to halftime after a stunning try to lock Quintin Purvis, which came about due to a missing kicking tee.
Tired of waiting to take his penalty attempt, fullback Jona Nareki opted for a dropkick while Feilding were huddled behind their line, and the ball hit the crossbar and bounced back, with Purvis following through to regather and dive over.
Nareki would also score in the second half from a set move, with his two conversions and a successful penalty proving the difference as Feilding scored three tries. However, they could not buy a kick from the four players they used.
The scoreboard clock was also a minute slow after not being stopped for an injury break, leading to Feilding making the mistake of kicking for the sideline when time was officially up.
The roll continued as WHS’s Under 16 Colts defended their 18-17 lead and then prop Ngatupuna Jackson-Apai scored in the final minute against a 14-man Rangitikei College 1st XV to take out the Premier 2 championship, 23-17 on No2 field.
Deputy principal Chris Friedel said the Year 10-11 players had punched above their weight by facing bigger 1st XV boys all season in their grade.
Recently, they had scored injury time wins over Manawatu College 17-15 and Waiopehu College with 12-10.
Coaches Charles Osborne and Dion Maua also had to contend with a number of player concussions, which left them with just a two-player bench on Saturday.
“Rangitikei got some big boys and they really chucked it at them,” said Friedel.
“It was a see-saw sort of a game.”
Prop David Marriner and winger Aiden Hunter scored the other tries, with fullback Mitchell Millar adding a conversion and two penalties.
Taihape Area School also got payback on the undefeated Wairarapa College 2nd XV in the Premier 3 final, winning 24-17 in another tight match.
Parent Shelley Noble said the two sides could barely be split, each scoring three tries.
The difference proved to be flanker Joseph Cowley, who turned in a faultless goalkicking performance with three conversions and a penalty.
Winger Isiah Ranginui, captain Kamryn Mosen and fullback Kelly Lowery got Taihape’s five-pointers.
Wanganui Collegiate’s 2nd XV also shocked the unbeaten Palmerston North Boys’ High School Rebels on the No1 ground when they held them to a 10-10 draw and claimed the Premier 4 trophy by virtue of scoring two tries to one.
The strongest of the four PNBHS teams in this eight-team grade, the Rebels had beaten Collegiate 26-22 earlier in the campaign. However, Collegiate director of sport Barry Touzel said the mainly Year 11 team had shown a lot of improvement under former Wanganui Heartland coach Karl Hoskin and assistant Barry Banks.
Collegiate also made the Under 15 B Division final against Masterton’s Rathkeale College but narrowly lost 13-12.
It completes a good year for Collegiate’s lower grade teams as the school’s under 14 65kg team won the new WRFU midweek competition last week, running out comfortable 26-5 winners in the final against City College.