College 1st XV are 1A Champions Again

August 26, 2013 at 10:45 AM

DSC_0498.JPGThe 1st XV win in the 70th minute of the 1A Auckland Rugby final on Saturday will go down in history. Head of Sport, Mr Martin Piaggin reports on the game:

‘If I thought of 5 different scenarios and wrote them down of what the 1A Rugby final was going to produce last Saturday I wouldn’t have come close to describing what actually happened. In front of a crowd of 10,000 tribal spectators supporting both Auckland Grammar and Saint Kentigern College, drama beyond belief unravelled. Having spoken about starting well all week the team looked from the start as if they had come to play. We enjoyed good possession and territory turning both into points early. Will Raea converted a penalty and then a Blake Gibson try from fairly wide out. His kicking in the last 5 or 6 games has been outstanding and there was more to come. The only disappointment of the first half from a Saint Kentigern point of view was that we were unable to score another 3 tries before half time. The feeling at half time was that we had thrown the kitchen sink at Grammar and we were only 10-3 up.

The second half was the exact opposite. Grammar enjoyed more possession and good territory and after some good lead up, scored a try. The difference came down to their kicker who failed to convert both the try and a penalty from right in front. With 10 minutes to go he did manage to convert a penalty and Grammar led for the first time in the match 11-10

In the last 10 minutes momentum shifted both ways. Saint Kentigern placed enough pressure on Grammar to score but forced passes and mistakes under extreme duress meant that we were repelled. Grammar also had opportunities to clear and force us back into our half but they too made mistakes.

With less than 5 minutes remaining on the clock we failed to find touch from a penalty which would have given us one last chance to score a try. Suli, following up, almost secured the ball turning a mistake into possible glory. Unfortunately he was penalised for pushing the player without the ball and the momentum went the other way and Grammar were awarded a penalty. One last twist and they also failed to put the ball out.

In one last act of desperation we rumbled forward through the forwards. Expecting to have to crash and bash our way towards the try line forwards and backs combined and the pressure went back on Grammar. As desperate as we were to score they were just as desperate to keep us out and in their exhausted state one of their defenders rushed up off side and the penalty was awarded.

Ref’s call was there was 1 minute to go. A brief discussion between Will Raea and Blake Gibson and Will steps up to kick from 41 metres out. The world stopped. Off the boot it didn’t look convincing but somehow it kept going and going and going and fell over the bar. 13- 11 and the full time whistle sounded.

As always with finals, one team is enormously gratified and one team is exhausted and mortified. The Saint Kentigern College 1st XV of 2013 isn’t the team that hasn’t lost in 50 games. This team isn’t the team that has won 3 Auckland 1A titles in a row. This year’s team is the Team that has gone through the season undefeated in 22 games including winning the World Youth Tournament in Japan. This year’s team is the team that has dealt with injuries and the pressure of following on from an undefeated 2012 team who were the National champions. This year’s team is very special and there are some very special young men in it. Some people might comment that this victory on Saturday was lucky. I say that the victory on Saturday was won in January when they started their preseason training. The victory on Saturday was won because this team was mentally tough enough to still be in the position to win the game in the 70th minute. The 2013 Saint Kentigern 1st XV is a very special team.'

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