By John Manukia
Even a losing scoreline of 10-27 flattered Auckland Grammar's shocking performance against old foes Kelston Boys' High in their national championship rugby quarter-final match.
It just wasn't Grammar's day - they lacked possession and territory, missed tackles and produced a turnover count that could last them an entire season.
When they took the ball up they were driven back by a strong Kelston defence.
Kelston hardly ever kicked, even when behind their own 22m line, but kept the ball in hand and used the big loose forwards Sione Lauaki, Pat Segi and Mose Tuiali'i to charge close to the ruck.
Then after quick ball from second, third and even fourth phase, the ball was delivered out wide to ignite Kelston's backline which includes New Zealand schools representatives Sam Tu'itupou, Ray Isara and captain Thomas Toailoa.
Man-of-the-match Isara lived up to his nickname "Razor" because he so often sliced the Grammar backline with his superb stepping skills and speed.
For the first of Kelston's four tries, Isara cut through two defenders, turning the last one inside out with a swerving run of which Christian Cullen would have been proud.
He followed that up with other glorious runs and strong defence, as well as a field goal.
The win puts Kelston into the top four play-offs for the Nike National Schools Rugby Championship, to be played at Hamilton's Rugby Park this week.
The victory was sweet revenge for Kelston following their 12-8 loss to Grammar in the final of the Auckland championship last month.
Only a last minute try by Eddie Liava'a, their second of the day, put Grammar into double figures and added respectability to the score.
Rotorua Boys' High continued their fine form in downing Hastings Boys' High 18-13 to take the second top-four place.
They will meet Kelston in one semifinal on Thursday.
In the other semifinal, Christchurch Boys' High squares off with Wellington College.
Christchurch beat Otago's King's High 19-15 and Wellington sneaked home 21-17 over Napier Boys' High in their quarterfinal matches.
The final on Saturday, which will be the curtain raiser for Wellington's Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato, will be televised live on Sky Sport.
The school match will kick-off at 12.50 pm.
By John Manukia