Rugby: Tauranga Boys' send strong warning

By Peter White

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Tauranga Boys' College took on one of the heavyweights of Auckland schoolboy rugby, Sacred Heart College, at Nicholson Field on Saturday.

The two schools have not met since 2000 but in an entertaining pre-season match played over three 30 minute spells, they ended up sharing the spoils 29-29.

Sacred Heart recently won a national Marist schools quadrangular and beat Rotorua Boys' by 30 points so were a stern test for the home team.

Tauranga Boys' struggled to deal with the size of the visitors and at times were guilty of going too high in the tackles, but it is not everyday you come up against schoolboy centres weighing in around 120kg.

The workout will have been invaluable for Tauranga Boys' after their 99-6 season opening win against Whangarei Boys' last week. There was some precision and talent evident in the backline with first-five Dan Hollingshead combining well with midfielders Resdin Herana and captain George Honey.

Fullback Connor Fifita sparked the game's first breakout from his own 22 but with the Sacred Heart defence splintered he was unable to link up with his winger Kahu Craig-Ranga.

Several members of the Tauranga Boys' national volleyball champion side were playing, including locks Caleb Aperahama and Max Schroder who dominated the lineouts.

Sacred Heart jumped out to a 15-3 lead but Tauranga Boys' superior fitness began to tell as they stormed back into the match. First centre Honey intercepted a stray pass to run 60 metres for a try but Sacred Heart scored immediately after to lead 22-10.

Hardworking openside flanker Dylan Donne then crashed over. Winger Burton McAdam raced in for another try after fullback Fifita cleverly took out two defenders to create the space and with 12 minutes to play the score was 22-22.

Christian Kelly scored a superb try after a smart kick from halfback Josh Honey to put Tauranga Boys' 29-22 up with just minutes remaining.

Unfortunately they lost concentration at the kickoff and Sacred Heart scored a converted try to draw the game.

Tauranga Boys' coach Jason Spice admitted his team were fortunate to draw the game but he was pleased with the players' commitment.

"We were very inaccurate at times but, to be honest, there was plenty of character out there. But if we are going to be successful this year we must be more clinical in the basic skills.

"It was positive how we fought back after going behind as many teams would have given up."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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