by St Paul's Collegiate School

Back-to-back CNI rugby champs

St Paul's are once again Central North Island (CNI) rugby champions following their 26-14 win over Whanganui Collegiate in the final match.

On Saturday 17 August, the St Paul’s 1st XV battled it out for the CNI championship title against Whanganui Collegiate. The boys were hungry for revenge as they had lost their last game against Whanganui, midway through the season.

Having the final at home was a great incentive to win the CNI cup for back-to-back seasons. Coaches Cody Price and Paul Hodder's game plan was to “starve the sheep”, or in other words, deprive Whanganui of the ball - a bit like what the Australians had done to the All Blacks in the first Bledisloe encounter.

They did this very well in the first half, not giving them much ball and playing their free running, expansive game, and running in three outstanding tries from Gideon Wrampling, his brother Malachi, and Lincoln Winter. Half time score was 19- 0. 

Despite the plan to continue more of the same, Whanganui wasn’t giving up that easily. They learnt what a danger we are with ball in hand and in the second half they did what we had done - not giving us much ball. They came at us in waves and while our defence was strong, it was severely tested time and time again. Whanganui were eventually rewarded with a try 20 minutes into the second half and then another 15 minutes later. 

Suddenly the score was 19-14 and it was game on! St Paul’s held their nerve and continued to defend and counter-attack, and while Whanganui didn’t look like they were going to win, we eventually put the game beyond their reach with a strong run and final try to Gideon, his second for the game. 

A great game of rugby and a fitting final, where both sides played their hearts out until the final whistle.

Final score: 26 – 14 to St Paul’s

Man of the match: Mattheus Pio