St Paul’s beat St Peter’s to make it a three-peat of Central North Island 1st XV titles

St Paul’s beat St Peter’s to make it a three-peat of Central North Island 1st XV titles

23 August 2016

St Paul’s Collegiate have secured a three-peat of Central North Island 1st XV titles and a remarkable 27th successive win in that competition, after beating St Peter’s School 30-16 in Saturday’s final.

After losing the 2013 decider to New Plymouth’s Francis Douglas Memorial College, St Paul’s haven't dropped a game, and a clinical first-half effort steered them to victory on Saturday, as they took a commanding 27-6 lead at halftime, before snuffing out a mini comeback from St Peter’s, despite losing their skipper to the sin bin.

St Paul’s coach Andrew Gibbs said his side’s experience of playing finals proved crucial, against a tireless St Peter’s team.

"It’s been a good journey for this particular group of lads," he said.

"They're pretty excited."

St Peter’s opened the scoring with a penalty off the boot of fullback Rewita Biddle, but that’s the only time they led in the match, with St Paul’s quick to level the scores through first five-eighth Fergus Burke, before running in four tries in the opening 35-minute half, where they won the battle of a hotly contested gainline and finished their opportunities sharply.

A fine break from man of the match, fullback Della Neli, set up the first of them, for winger Ryan Wilkins, before Burke produced a lovely show and go and a swan dive to finish. The hosts were also rewarded for graft work, with tighthead prop Ashton Finau burrowing over, before Neli showed more of his class, snaffling an intercept on the turn, then scorching 75 metres.

Needing something special in the second half, St Peter’s dominated possession and pinned St Paul’s in the corners. First-five Kaea Hongara took the line on and scored, while lock Lachlan McWhannell intercepted a Burke pass to roam 45 metres to the line, and St Paul’s were on the wrong side of a heap of penalties, with captain and No 8 Jackson Morgan yellow carded for lying on the wrong side of the ruck.

But the hosts held their nerve, and deserved their win, making just the one handling error all day and spending more than double the time St Peter’s did in one another’s 22m line.

"St Peter’s were very worth opposition, they were certainly physical," Gibbs said.

"Even when they were 27-6 down they still just kept on trucking. So there were still some nervous times."

Along with the X-factor of Neli, Gibbs praised the work of Burke – who he said had "a really good head on his shoulders" and was looking forward to linking up with again next year – two-metre lock Sam Porritt and halfback Connor Collins.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Boys' High School have moved to within one win of a place in the national top four playoffs after defeating New Plymouth Boys' High School 36-10 in Hamilton on Saturday.

Hamilton BHS will take on Rotorua Boys' High School in Rotorua this Saturday – after they beat Wesley College – with the winner of that clash advancing to the top four, which is held in Palmerston North the following week.

St Peter’s are also still alive in the race for the co-ed national championship, with their next game on Tuesday away against Stratford High School. The winner of that game will advance to the Chiefs region final, where a place in the national top four, also held in Palmerston North, will be at stake.


Central North Island 1st XV competition, final

St Paul’s Collegiate 30 beat St Peter’s Cambridge 16

Chiefs region top four playoff

Hamilton Boys' High School 36 beat New Plymouth Boys' High School 10

(Source: Aaron Goile Waikato Times)