Rugby: Solid defence gives Grammar victory

By Campbell Burnes

Auckland Grammar celebrated their win over St Kentigern. Photo / Greg Bowker
Auckland Grammar celebrated their win over St Kentigern. Photo / Greg Bowker

Auckland Grammar have broken St Kentigern's three-year reign at the summit of Auckland First XV rugby.

In a high-quality 1A final at Western Springs before more than 10,000 spectators, Auckland Grammar's gallant defence, superior tight five and the accurate boot of No10 Wiseguy Faiane were the difference in the 31-26 victory, which brought their first championship since 2006 after two runner-up efforts.

St Kentigern made the early running but could not crack the Auckland Grammar line, who soaked up all the pressure before responding with a well-taken try to wing Loketi Manu after a sparky foray by halfback Cory Collins. The latter scored one of his own in the second spell, set up by centre Rieko Ioane. But that was sandwiched by a double from his opposite, St Kentigern No9 and captain Sam Nock. His stepping and spinning were to the fore, and his first was set up by fullback Patrick Herbert and prop Fa'a Lafaele.

The crucial play came when Manu was halted in a no-arms tackle by Herbert.

Referee Shaun Elliott binned him, correctly, and awarded a penalty try. St Kentigern rallied late for Wesley Tameifuna to cross.

But Auckland Grammar were not to be denied and captain Robert Harris held the ASB Cup aloft to raucous cheers from their supporters.

Coach Dave Askew knows how hard this final is to win, but took plenty of lessons out of the round-robin loss to St Kent's on August 9.

"We had a real good look at the way we played then ... We worked hard on backing our line speed and our ability to ID their attackers," he said.

- NZ Herald

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