This year's Auckland 1A 1st XV competition is proving to be as tight as ever following the first three rounds, as four competition points seperates first place from sixth.
Auckland Grammar School bounced back from their last-minute loss to Sacred Heart College before the school holiday break to hold on and beat St Kentigern College 10-3 to solidify fourth spot on the competition ladder.
Grammar led 3-0 in a tight tussle, before a moment of brilliance in the second half resulted in the only try of the game. Grammar first-five Cullen Gray put a chip kick over the St Kentigern defence and found centre Fatafehi Fineanganofo who beat the opposing winger and fullback then passed the ball inside to Gray who raced away to score.
Auckland Grammar School assistant coach Dave Askew was delighted by the composure shown from his side.
"That's the pleasing thing when you're working with schoolboys - three weeks ago we didn't take our moments and then today we did," said Askew. That's all you can ask when you're working with a schoolboy side is that they learn from the performances each week, whether you win or lose."
The loss was St Kentigern's first of the campaign and Askew says it was an important game for them in the context of this year's unique season format.
"Obviously with a round robin it's a straight sprint, so you don't get the chance to repair things in a top four scenario if you get to that stage in the season. Losing three weeks ago before the school holiday break it was really important to get competition points and hang in there."
Crucial win for St Peter's
One of the other big results of the weekend saw St Peter's College sneak home to topple Sacred Heart College 25-20 and remain in touching distance of the top four.
St Peter's coach Dave Thomas said it was a crucial win for his side against quality opposition.
"It's significant in the context of our season and it's done wonders for us as a group," said Thomas. "Seeing the way the boys have come together this week and how they responded on the field and seeing their body language post game. To back up after school holidays against a quality side like Sacred Heart was never going to be easy, but to see the performance they put out there was really pleasing. Every game is essentially like a playoff this season, so those competition points are crucial." Thomas said.
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St Peter's overturned a 20-16 deficit in the second half, with first-five AJ Faleafaga landing three straight penalty goals to cap off a superb individual performance where he kicked a perfect seven from seven on the day, scoring 20 points.
"We'll take the win regardless of how we get the points," Thomas said.
"We were able to get into situations where Sacred Heart were giving away penalties at the right end of the field and we're lucky we've got a quality first-five who's pretty accurate at the moment."
Sacred Heart are top of the ladder due to picking up a bonus point, while St Peter's are sixth.
King's College are now the only unbeaten team remaining after comfortably beating Dilworth School 53-13.
Despite being unbeaten, a draw before the break means King's and St Kentigern are in second and third spot, tied on 11 points, with Auckland Grammar rounding out the top four on 10.
Tangaroa College have picked up their first win of the season, after accounting for Liston College 19-10. De La Salle College have outlasted Aorere College to win 14-7 in their game, while Kelston Boys' High School has snuck home to beat Mount Albert Grammar School 11-9 and notch up their second victory of the campaign.
NORTH HARBOUR 1A
Mahurangi 20 v Rangitoto 17
Massey 0 v Rosmini 14
Takapuna 8 v Westlake 22
Kaipara 0 v Orewa 83
Manurewa 37 v Whangarei 0
Liston 10 v Tangaroa 19
Dilworth 13 v Kings 53
St Peter's 25 v Sacred Heart 20
St Kentigern 3 v Auckland Grammar 10
Kelston 11 v MAGS 9
De La Salle 14 v Aorere 7
Palmerston North 25 v Hastings 8
Tauranga 0 v Rotorua 15
New Plymouth 14 v Hamilton 26
Napier 24 v Gisborne 0
CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND
Wesley 25 v Francis Douglas 15
St Paul's Collegiate 26 v St John's Hamilton 34
Fielding 38 v St John's Hastings 0
Lindisfarne v Whanganui to be played on Tuesday
WELLINGTON 1ST XV PREMIERSHIP
St Pat's Town 17 v St Pat's Silverstream 26
Scots College 58 v Wairarapa 3
Mana College 17 v Wellington College 28
Tawa College 27 v St Bernard's 55
Rongotai 19 v Aotea 18
Nelson College 24 v Waimea Combined 19
Roncalli Aoraki Combined 12 v Mid Canterbury Combined 13
Rangiora HS 27 v Marlborough BC 14
Shirley BHS 23 v Christchurch BHS 29
Lincoln Combined 0 v St Thomas 52
St Bede's College 22 v Christ's College 10
Mt Aspiring College 40 v John McGlashan College 33
Dunstan HS 13 v Otago BHS 42