Hero photograph
Photo by Andrew Constable

U55Kg Gold end their rugby season on a high

St Paul's Collegiate School —

Building on the success of this team over the past six years was one of the main objectives for the boys.

The U55kg teams are an important focus in the St Paul’s rugby programme as we understand that these talented young players often go on to play in the 1st XV in their senior years. We have a very talented group of junior rugby players this year, with both U55kg teams and the U14 team having very successful seasons.

The boys came to training with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn and develop their game. Both Mr Neethling and Mr Morton were excited with the depth of talent at our disposal.

The official season for the Gold team started with wins over St Peter’s (35-12) and HBHS Red (41-0). We played one of our best games of the season to beat St John’s (36-7) and the following week Cambridge High School (44-5). The team then had three tough games, but continued on their winning way with victories over HBHS White (22-5), HBHS Black (24-7), and the strong Te Awamutu team (26-14).

Our next game was against St Paul’s U55kg Black, who showed just what a talented side they are, by keeping the scored to 12-12 at half time, with the Gold team eventually winning 38-12.

We had now reached the quarter final stage of the competition and we knew that none of the earlier results mattered as it became a knock-out competition. The team had to work hard against Cambridge, but won (24-0). From this game we learnt that we would have to reduce the amount of penalties we give away each game.

In the semi-final we faced a much improved HBHS Black. We took an early lead into half time (12-0). HBHS bounced right back after half time to make it 12-12. We had to dig deep and managed to score two late tries to win 24-19.

Saturday, 18th August was a very special day for the boys as they played the final on the main ground, as a type of curtain-raiser to the CNI 1st XV final match. It certainly inspired the boys, who came out firing and Matthew Brooks scoring three tries from number 8. Hunter Doull converted as he had done all season and also took a penalty for us to lead at the half by 24-0.

HBHS Red showed the fight that HBHS teams always do and came right back into the game with three tries. Campbell Bayes crashed over for us late in the game to seal the victory 29-17.

The win was special as we had lost close encounters in the previous two finals (0-7 in 2016) and (12-14 in 2017). More special though, was that the boys dedicated the game to Mr Morton, who inspired the team over the whole season with his passion for the game. Sam Pepper, Daniel Strang and Harrison Cullen lead the team superbly for the whole of the season.

Our thanks must go to the U14 team and their coaches who helped us every Thursday with a “live” training session. This certainly gave us the tough preparation we needed each week.

St Paul’s have a great legacy in the U55kg division. Since 2010 (nine seasons) we have won the competition four times and played in six of the last seven finals. The U55kg Gold team has also only lost three games in the last three seasons. Going through the 2018 season unbeaten in 12 games is something the team is proud of. We are already looking forward to the 2019 season.