Prop Jeremiah Tuiatua is developing a reputation as the man for the rescue missions with the Hastings Boys' High School first XV rugby side.
Six weeks after soring the match-winning try in an away 24-21 win against Napier Boys' High School, Tuiatua, repeated the feat with the final play of the game in today's 29-24 victory against Tauranga Boys College in Hastings to keep his team's unbeaten Super 8 record intact. Should HBHS win their final round robin match against Hamilton Boys' High School in Hamilton next week they will host the final the following week.
"It felt so good to score that try. I knew we could fight our way back. We all had each others backs and the boys showed that. It's important we still keep humble though," Tuiatua said afterwards.
He didn't think it was because the Hastings players were already thinking ahead to the Hamilton match that they almost blew today's.
"It was more because Tauranga brought a massive game to us. They're nowhere near the top of the table and had nothing to lose."
Tuiatua is in his first season with HBHS after transferring from St Patrick's College in Wellington. He is enjoying the experience and had 20 minutes off the bench for the Hurricanes under-18 side in their 20-10 loss to their Blues counterparts in Taupo a fortnight ago.
"It was good to have that opportunity but my main goal this season is to help Hastings make the National Top Four competition and hopefully we can be the best ... that's every first XV player's goal," Tuiatua added.
Hastings manager and former Magpies halfback Jason Bird agreed his troops made it difficult for themselves.
"Full credit to Tauranga Boys College who are a good side and played really well. At the same time I'm proud of our boys for digging deep, hanging in there and coming back."
Winger Joeli Rauca scored the first of his tries for Hastings in the 11th minute after outstanding first five-eighth Latrell Ah Kiong made an intercept when Tauranga were five metres out and hot on attack. Ah Kiong converted.
Three minutes later winger Ryan Schneebell scored for Tauranga and the hosts led 7-5 at halftime. Both teams conceded nine turnovers in the first half.
Hastings often do because of the high tempo game they play. Tauranga spilt the ball when they were close to scoring on several occasions and this was a tribute to Hastings superb defensive work.
Rauca displayed hs tremendous speed and strength to score his second try three minutes into the second half. Tauranga stayed in touch when winger Chad-Isiah Roberts scored two minutes later.
Hastings left winger Eldius Oli scored 14 minutes into the second half to give the hosts a 17-10 lead. Tauranga replied four minutes later with a try to hooker Jayreeve Mose from a pick-and-go move.
Second five-eighth and captain Hunter Dickson converted to tie the thriller at 17-all. Quick hands from Hastings put promising No 8 Cooper Flanders over for a try with eight minutes remaining.
Four minutes later Tauranga took the lead for the first time when Dickson scored and kicked the extras. It was well into injury time when Tuiatua scored from close range and Ah Kiong had the final say.
An all-in brawl took some of the gloss off the spectacle after Tuiatua's try but to both sides credit they did their best to end it shortly after it began.
Napier Boys' High School were beaten 34-20 by New Plymouth Boys' High School in their Super 8 1st XV clash in Napier. The Sky Blues have recorded one win, four losses and a draw to date and will attempt to retain the Polson Banner in their away clash against Palmerston North Boys' High School on Wednesday.
NBHS coach Brendon Ratcliffe heaped kudos on the New Plymouth side but at the same time admitted his lads lost their way for a 15-minute period in the second half after trailing 12-10 at halftime. However he was happy with how the hosts fought back with two late tries.
"We've got to front in four days time and play with the passion and belief which is part of our brotherhood. It would be something special to retain the banner but for both teams it is the toughest game of the year," Ratcliffe said.
Prop Jake Ward, co-captain and lock Frank Lochore, halfback Angus Kilmister and substitute loosie Rob Slabbekoorn scored Napier's tries.
Hastings Boys' High School 29 (Joeli Rauca 2, Eldius Oli, Cooper Flanders, Jeremiah Tuiatua tries; Latrell Ah Kiong 2 cons), Tauranga Boys' College 24 (Ryan Schneebell, Chad-Isiah Roberts, Jayreeve Mose, Hunter Dickson tries; Dickson 2 cons). HT: 7-5.