It started three seasons ago with two men's vision to bridge the gap between local schoolboy and adult rugby, and on Saturday the St Johns Club Whanganui Metro youngsters came of age with a dominant 33-0 win over College Old Boys in a windy Manawatu Colts championship final.

Metro went into the game on Arena Manawatu's No3 ground as heavy favourites, having previously won the Friday night Evans Cup competition, claimed the Broome Shield as top qualifier after the Saturday round robin games, and hammered the now underwhelming five-time champions Massey White in their semifinal.

Yet all that would have rung hollow if they did not achieve the 'triple crown' by lifting the Gordon Brown Memorial Cup, a prize which had eluded them after falling short in the previous two years of playoffs.

But having won the key coin toss to take first use of the gustily breeze on Saturday, Metro harnessed the conditions expertly to run in five first-half tries, four of them converted by standout second-five Desmond Tyrell, to have put the match out of reach with all 33 points.


Turning to face the wind, Metro did not have the same ability to kick the ball for distance and faced a virtual 16th man defending their hitups, as they began to make handling errors, but here was where they really demoralised their opposition with a dominant set piece and savage work at the breakdown.

Metro won two tighthead scrums, claimed at least four lineouts off College's throw, and stole or blew the attackers off their own breakdown ball so many times that even the sideline College supporters – a parochial bunch – were getting upset with their team's failure to secure territory and points.

Co-coach Carl Gibson had been slightly nervous before kickoff, feeling his side needed at least 21 points in the first half, plus any extras, to be safe going into the breeze, but all the ground work he and fellow coach Darryl Malcolm had laid with their squad came off perfectly.

Malcolm said the idea was to let their big forwards like twin Sherman tank props David Mariner and Eman Savage go full steam for as long as they could, then use the bench players to come on specifically to defend their lead.

"We took the wind in the first half to do exactly that, and it came off.

"It's the third trophy we've had this year and we're stoked with that."

Lock Mason Johnson, who was very clever at grounding the ball after falling through tackles so he could pick up and go again, along with second-row partner Devon Gower, plus the flankers Coultin Wilson and Corbin Warren, gave their opposition a lesson in proper ruck and maul technique.

Malcolm also praised a Metro backline who had "been on their toes" all game to shadow and stop College's dangerous outside backs like centre Ethan Malasini and fullback Jacob Hewetson-Talamaivao.


"We just had to cut them down....not let them run."

Centre Riley Culver, one of around four current players who have been with Metro since the inception, was outstanding, while Player of the Year halfback Chris Ferguson ran rampant behind his dominant pack, often following up the Mariner and Savage carries to snipe through glaring holes in College's defence off the ruck.

Halfback Chris Ferguson, later named Player of the Year for his team, gets away down the open College Old Boys wing.
Halfback Chris Ferguson, later named Player of the Year for his team, gets away down the open College Old Boys wing.

Metro got into their work quickly after fullback Karihi Potaka-Osborne cleared their half with a good run, getting a penalty for Mariner and Savage to make big gains off the lineout.

Although the ball was turned over and College cleared their territory, Johnson had Metro back on attack after sneaking through, leading to another penalty kick for a lineout as the Metro props and their probing halfback swept up to the tryline.

Metro recycled quickly and although College could see Savage lining up for another drive, they could not stop him, with Tyrell adding the extras after nine minutes.

Although Tyrell lost the kickoff, Metro shut down Malasini and then the forwards got the turnover to clear the ball, with College losing their impetus after they got a tap penalty for a high tackle but then chip kicked out on the full with the breeze taking the ball sideways.

Johnson made a hitup and caught College napping with his plant-ball-and-regain-feet action to dash away and around Hewetson-Talamaivao, bouncing over the tryline in the tackle.

Metro got straight back on attack with Savage leading the way off a penalty lineout, and then Tyrell brilliantly drew in two defenders and made a basketball-style pass to unmarked winger Zacariah Tangira, who zipped over at the corner flag.

Tangira could have had a double as Tyrell's attacking kick just beat everyone over the sideline after a Metro tighthead scrum win, but the forwards just stole the lineout and winger Jaiden Edmonds let Tyrell know he was coming to scythe through off the pass and carry two tacklers under the posts.

Metro tryscorer Jaiden Edmonds looks to brush through College winger Trent Didham's tackle.
Metro tryscorer Jaiden Edmonds looks to brush through College winger Trent Didham's tackle.

At 26-0, Metro had the breathing space Gibson wanted, but his side weren't done, showing could handling skills to hang onto low passes to get back down on attack.

Led by runs from Warren and Ferguson, Metro got the penalty and set a scrum, and after several phases of buildup, Mariner set Metro up close to the line and Warren dived over for a deserved try two minutes before the break.

College would only manage to penetrate Metro's 10-15m dangerzone three times in the second half, being turned away on each occasion, as they had no answer to the Metro forwards, while the backs kept the College speedsters honest.

Whanganui Metro 33 (E Savage, M Johnson, Z Tangira, J Edmonds, C Warren tries; D Tyrell 4 con) bt College Old Boys 0. HT: 33-0.

Metro No8 Tom Gibson fights through the College defence.
Metro No8 Tom Gibson fights through the College defence.