Whanganui Collegiate 1st XV played smart wet weather rugby with great control and discipline to stay well on top of the Central North Island standings with a 69-0 hammering of mid-table St John's College Hastings today.
Scoring 11 tries to none in heavy rain conditions at the Collegiate No1 ground, the home side were just too strong on the turnovers, while moving the ball at a pace their Hawke's Bay visitors could not contain while giving away a steady stream of penalties.
First-five Harry Godfrey had a standout match with some excellent attacking kicks and the confidence to take the line on, being one of four players who got two tries.
Mobile prop Ben Strang had an outstanding match, including a 60m breakout try from the ruck where he held off his chasers all the way to the line, while centre Sione Osamu had too much power out wide.
For St John's, they played nearly half the match with 14 men as fullback Ryan Lindeque was sinbinned for a professional foul, then lock Ollie Gardiner went for a foot trip, and finally reserve Joseph Penetito let his frustrations at being penalised for a double movement at the tryline get the better of him, with a verbal spray at referee Ben Lourie earning a yellow then red card.
They struggled with their touch finder kicks and dropped off too many one-on-one tackles to be competitive with the bigger home team.
After a messy start with a couple of fumbles, Collegiate worked forward off a couple of penalties and from an attacking scrum the grubber kick was put down for fullback Beau Hourigan to win the race to the ball, with second five Te Atawhai Mason adding the extras.
Another good dash by Hourigan had Collegiate close again, and after halfback Max Crowley went for a dart, the ball was spread wide and winger Hadleigh O'Leary picked it up on the bounce to slide over.
Down to a last warning as St John's kept infringing or getting offside in their attempt to close Collegiate's passing channels, the visitors were reduced to 14 and despite fumbling the ball back on a set move from the scrum, they regathered and simply transferred back the other way, as a long Mason pass set up O'Leary to get his double.
Intercepted passes prevented Collegiate getting their bonus point try before halftime, but they turned it on from the resumption when St John's again lost a player to the sinbin, and the home side smartly sprinted back across to where the infringement occurred for a quick tap to hooker Thomas Pease to dive across.
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Collegiate First XV top of CNI table
Strang got his first try straight after the kickoff when his outstanding break out run from inside his own half, and at 31-0 the St John's heads were down.
The visitor's blocked yet fumbled another attacking grubber, so from the scrum Collegiate just tried it again and Osamu showed great control to regather the wet ball at full pace and dive into score.
Play then got a bit messy with scrums for both teams, before Collegiate regained their structure and Osamu beat his man to run 40m and score his double.
Another Godrey attacking kick was saved by Lindeque in-goal, but from the 22m kickoff, Collegiate set themselves and big No 8 Semi Vodosese made the offload to Strang, who stepped through a tackle to run in his second try, with Mason's kick bringing up the half century.
Hourigan made another long run, which ended up with a Collegiate scrum from the breakdown, and the home side spread the ball back towards the posts with Godfrey crashing through amongst a pile of bodies, allowing O'Leary a little kicking practice with the conversion.
Godfrey made a deep run from his half, before finding support, and from the ruck Vodosese gave it back to his first-five to step his way through the cover defence and score out wide.
St John's had a late chance to finally get points as Collegiate gave away a succession of penalties, with reserve forward Leo Allan being sinbinned, but despite pounding the tryline, they just couldn't break the defence.
Twice the Hastings players were brought down just short of the line and tried to then lift up in the tackle to stretch out to score, but Lourie pulled them back both times and sent Penetito when he told him what he thought about it.
Collegiate went back on attack with time nearly up, as St John's fumbled their bomb kick into the corner, and from the scrum Vodosese went off the back to score a deserved try in the corner, which Mason converted from near the touchline.
The table leaders now have another home game with Lindisfarne on Wednesday, kickoff 1pm, before their break in the CNI competition to get ready for the annual Quadrangular Tournament in Wellington.
Collegiate 69 (H O'Leary 2, S Osamu 2, B Strang 2, H Godfrey 2, B Hourigan, T Pease, S Vodosese tries; T Mason 6 con, O'Leary con) bt St John's Hamilton 0. HT: 17-0.