The Roncalli Aoraki First XV recorded their first win of the 2019 season with a gritty and courageous effort against Lincoln Combined on Saturday at the Thunderdome.
Trailing 11-15, with time up on the clock, it was some determined hassling from halfback Thomas Flynn that forced his opposite number into a crucial mistake. The resulting turnover saw the forwards rampaging forward from the resulting ruck, sniffing an opportunity, and the ever present Ashlei Stuart Martin was there to drive over and seal the 18-15 win.
The match started with the steady Hayden Kerr pocketing penalties, keeping the home team in touch with the visitors, who broke out after lapses in concentration, that have hurt the Roncalli Aoraki First XV in the past. Lincoln scored two unconverted tries in the first half and then one after the break seeing Roncalli Aoraki down 6-15 early in the second half and the shadows of the past seasons looming.
However the 2019 team managed to maintain possession with good phase play built on strong and piercing runs from Luke Biutanaseva, Sebastian Monua and Jack Pratt. Lock Alex Hayes was also good with ball in hand, a willing participant in contact despite this being his first year in the team as a Year 11 from Geraldine High School.
From the ensuing pressure, Roncalli Aoraki built momentum and crossed the line twice, only for those attempts to be not awarded. In addition, opportunities were created that lacked the vision to convert out wide. It was finally when super sub Adam Currie injected his passion and aggression to score, that the home team truly sniffed an upset.
Relentless and committed, possession was maintained and when the ball was lost close to the Lincoln line with time up on the clock, all looked lost to the crowd, but not the team. If anything, the Roncalli Aoraki team is built on resilience and commitment and it was this mentality that saw them through.
Whilst all members of the team contributed to the win, Hayden Kerr directed the ship around the park with accurate decisions and Jackson Hicks Sandri provided a steady head at the back. Along with Hayes, Geraldine High players Conor Foley Smith and Michael Livingstone proved the value of providing pathways for the member schools as is the vision for this team. Flanker Foley Smith was everywhere, whilst the diminutive winger Livingstone was courageous in defence. Ashlei Stuart Martin deserved the final say, bringing a real mobility to the forward pack and carrying strongly. Usually a hooker, he welcomed the challenge of prop and was determined, with Ryan Brosnahan providing some respite midway through the second half and providing some stability at scrum time.
For a full match report: https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/sport/112845726/roncalliaoraki-surprise-in-uc-championship
The team travels to Nelson to take on Waimea this Saturday. A tough road trip, but with the knowledge that they can dig deep when it counts.