Rugby: National First XV results

By Campbell Burnes

Hoskins Sotutu, of Sacred Heart College, makes a break during the Auckland 1A final against Mount Albert Grammar School at Eden Park on Saturday. Photo / Photosport
Hoskins Sotutu, of Sacred Heart College, makes a break during the Auckland 1A final against Mount Albert Grammar School at Eden Park on Saturday. Photo / Photosport

A dominant first half laid a sound platform for St Paul's Collegiate to win their third consecutive Central North Island final for the Taine Randell Cup.

St Paul's led 27-6 at the break and 30-16 at fulltime against fellow Waikato school St Peter's of Cambridge, who were in their first final and had come a long way after missing the top four in 2015.

St Paul's wing Tim Yarrell ran out for his 50th match for the First XV, a notable achievement. His side were straight into their work, and within 10 minutes the opposite wing Ryan Wilkins was on the end of some sweet passing and good angles from the St Paul's backs to finish. No 10 Fergus Burke, who contributed 15 points, scored a try using guile and a step.

Then followed two tries in quick succession to prop Ashton Finau and fullback and man of the match Della Neli off a turnover. At 27-6 at the half, the contest was, to all intents and purposes, over.

St Peter's were not ready to submit, however, and gave their vocal and colourful band of around 200 school supporters plenty to cheer about with two well-taken tries, the first to first five Kaea Hongara, who ran hard at a gap off a lineout, while lock Lachlan McWhannell bolted for a long-range intercept try.

St Paul's now have a 27-match unbeaten streak in the Central North Island competition, which included Wesley for the first time this season.

St Peter's travel to Stratford High today to determine who will play Manurewa in Saturday's Chiefs' co-ed final.

Hamilton BHS and Rotorua BHS again clash this Saturday, this time in the Chiefs final, after respective semifinal wins over New Plymouth BHS (36-10) and Wesley (35-20).

*Westlake BHS won their 15th North Harbour 1A First XV for the ASB Championship Cup in some style, but not before withstanding a torrid opening from Massey and some calls that went in their favour at QBE Stadium last Thursday.

There were six tries in the 34-3 victory, but Massey copped at least one, if not two, bad calls against them. The dubious call was for second five Fine Inisi's third try, which replays showed to be from a forward pass. The doubtful decision was ruling out a try to Massey captain Christian Lio-Willie, who may have lost the ball in the act of scoring, though that was not conclusive.

For all that, Westlake were good for the win, controlling the tempo after the first 15 minutes, their pack grabbing the initiative and their kicking tactics on the money, while in Fine Inisi they had the game's outstanding individual.

Westlake will now play MAGS in Saturday's Blues final, while Massey today face Kaipara to meet Aorere in Saturday's Blues' co-ed final.

*In a dramatic and absorbing Auckland 1A final at Eden Park, MAGS edged Sacred Heart 15-13 to win their 23rd title and first since 2010.

Sacred Heart, in their first final, played with all their usual spirit and had dedicated the match to the memory of old boy, the late Kurtis Haiu. But they will be kicking themselves for conceding a try to lock Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa on the stroke of halftime, which relieved pressure on MAGS.

Sacred Heart wing Melino Huihui'Uia scored a try just after the break, but Sacred Heart was never able to control field position or gain any set-piece ascendancy, and MAGS reclaimed the lead when standout No 7 Isaiah Papali'i dived over from a lineout drive.

For all that MAGS deserved the plaudits and the win, Sacred Heart may have stolen it in the final minute, a breakout leading to prop Fatongia Paea with the ball at the other end of the field. But his last pass went forward. Cue jubilation from the MAGS camp and their supporters.

MAGS coach Geoff Moon will be with the squad for a few more days, at least, before he goes fulltime with Auckland as assistant, his side odds-on to head to the Top 4 tournament next week in Palmerston North, an event they won in 2010 under captain Michael Fatialofa.

The Eden Park curtainraiser saw the 1B title shared 17-all between Tamaki and Liston, both finalists having already qualified to play the April 2017 promotion-relegation series with Onehunga and Otahuhu.

*The Hastings BHS train barrels on, wiping the mat 57-3 with St Pat's Town in the Hurricanes' semifinal, and setting up a showdown with Wellington College, who edged Napier BHS 39-31, in neutral Palmerston North on Saturday.

The Hurricanes' co-ed final pits Wairarapa College against perennial co-ed heavyweights Feilding High.

*The South Island final sees Southland BHS travel to Christchurch BHS on Saturday. This follows Southland winning the Highlanders title in defeating John McGlashan 31-17, while Christchurch BHS won their ninth UC Championship (Crusaders) crown, but only just, 21-20 over Shirley BHS at Rugby Park, with a brace to wing Atu Manu the difference.

Balclutha will host the South Island co-ed final between Burnside High and South Otago High, the latter winning their semifinal 64-10 over St Peter's of Gore.

North Harbour 1A final:

Westlake BHS 34 (Fine Inisi 3, Lotu Inisi, Casey Smith, Harry Forbes tries; Keepa Wiki 2
con) Massey 3 (Miracle Naititi pen) HT: 24-3

Auckland 1A final:

MAGS 15 (Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa, Isaiah Papali'i tries; Niven Longopoa con, pen)
Sacred Heart 13 (Melino Huihui'Uia try; Ben Engels con, 2 pen) HT: 7-3

Auckland 1B Championship final:

Tamaki 17 Liston 17 (title shared)

Central North Island final:

St Paul's Collegiate 30 (Ryan Wilkins, Ashton Finau, Della Neli, Fergus Burke tries; Burke 2
con, 2 pen) St Peter's (Cambridge) 16 (Kaea Hongara, Lachlan McWhannell tries; Rewita
Biddle 2 pen) HT: 27-6 St Paul's Collegiate

UC Championship final:

Christchurch BHS 21 Shirley BHS 20

Chiefs semifinals:

Rotorua BHS 35 Wesley 20
Hamilton BHS 36 New Plymouth BHS 10

Hurricanes semifinals:

Wellington 39 Napier BHS 31
Hastings BHS 57 St Pat's Town 3

Highlanders finals:

Southland BHS 31 John McGlashan 17
Co-ed: South Otago HS 64 St Peter's (Gore) 10

- NZ Herald

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