The Whanganui Collegiate 1st XV is now a real going concern for the rest of the teams in the Central North Island competition after their 26-19 win over St Paul's Collegiate at the school grounds on Wednesday afternoon.
Both teams came into the match with two wins, while Collegiate had played a further game with their narrow away loss to Wesley College.
Powerhouses St Paul's from Hamilton have won the CNI title four times in the past five years, and overall were unbeaten in games against Collegiate with four victories and one draw, 11-11 back in 2017.
In his report, coach Steve Simpson said both sides struggled to hold onto the ball early in the cool conditions, before Collegiate opened the scoring with a good 40m penalty from second-five Te Atawhai Mason.
St Paul's hit back quickly as big forward pack managed to muscle over for a converted try.
"The WCS put together several phases of their own and Mason managed to dive in the right corner for a try, which he converted beautifully from the sideline," said Simpson.
At 10-7, St Paul's again responded quickly to take the lead, with centre Gideon Wrampling slicing through the midfield to score another converted try.
Collegiate closed the gap to a point through another Mason penalty, and then crucially scored right on halftime as winger Dillon Adrole followed up some excellent forward work to dive over right in the left hand corner, going into the break 18-14 up.
"In the second half, WCS put on early pressure and from a well organised line out drive of nearly 20m, [prop] Ben Strang finished off a well-deserved forwards try," said Simpson.
However, St Paul's were not finished and after several phases one of their big props went on an angled run to force his way over to close the gap again at 23-19.
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Mason coolly struck another penalty with just a few minutes left to make his team safe from a loss, and then they defending their converted try advantage to the finish.
"This win also meant that WCS took the Rick T Francis Challenge Shield off St Paul's and now must defend it for two games to get their name engraved on it for the first time," said Simpson.
"Mason had a very good game, particularly his kicking, and in the forwards [lock] Hunter Morrison and [flanker] Sam Sherriff worked tirelessly for the whole game."
After two games in five days, Collegiate's next match is on Tuesday away to Rathkeale College, with a 1.30pm kickoff.
Rathkeale have lost their first two games, while Collegiate are sitting six points clear on top of the CNI table, although having played 1-2 games more the the other nine sides.