Rugby: Boys' regret missed chances

By Peter White


The last time Tauranga Boys' First XV beat Hamilton Boys' was in 2009 when All Blacks flanker Sam Cane was in the side but this year's team missed an opportunity to knock over the Mooloo boys after a heartbreaking 28-27 loss at Nicholson Field on Saturday.

The game was a full-blooded encounter played with the pace, panache and passion that makes First XV rugby so special and Tauranga Boys' may not meet a tougher opponent all season.

But after trailing 25-13 midway through the second half - and frustrated by a succession of missed scoring opportunities - Tauranga Boys' came storming home with outstanding team tries finished off by Leighton Hika and Connor Silvester to close the gap to just a point.

The option to not kick for goal with three minutes left from a long-range penalty may not have been the best in hindsight but the Boys' deserve plenty of praise for the way they came back against their highly fancied opponents.

Tauranga Boys' could not have wished for a better start with outstanding fullback Connor Fifita scoring from the kick off after he charged down a clearing kick from Bryn Gatland - son of British Lions coach Warren - with the bonus of a sideline conversion from Dan Hollinshead.

Hamilton Boys' proved to be clinical at taking chances as they scored three tries and took advantage of some unforced errors from Tauranga Boys' in their own 22. But they could not score again through the home team's determined defence and in the end just held on for their second win in the Chiefs Cup.

Tauranga Boys' fullback Fifita says they never gave up hope, despite being behind on the scoreboard.

"Yes we were confident as the motto in our team is 'protect the fortress', which is the home ground, and we always play for pride. So, no matter what the score, we were always going to give it our all," he said.

"The boys always seem to kick at the end, and get a second wind and, once we get some momentum, there is no real stopping the team. The coaching staff has been really good this year. I know when I was in the team last year we started about three or four weeks before the season but this time we cracked into it straight after last season and the pre-season has been good.

"One thing we do is relax straight after we score points and let them back in, which has been happening throughout our last few games, and we are definitely working on it.

"Hamilton are always good but we are just better this year and can compete with them. I am looking forward to the Super 8 and the first game against our big rivals Rotorua Boys'."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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