Want to know who the next Beauden Barrett or Kieran Read will be? In his weekly column for the Herald, schoolboy rugby expert Herschel Fruean singles out the best First XV matches of the weekend, and some rising stars to watch. Fruean will travel New Zealand looking for the best talent the country has to offer, preview the big games every Friday, provide a wrap of all the results on Sunday, and rank the top 15 First XV teams (based on their performances throughout the season) every Monday morning.
15) Southland BHS (Previous ranking 15)
Southland Boys had a strong game against Otago Boys 2nd XV and showed that they have a great bench that can start a game and go the distance which is what you need when you get into these hard games. Southland Boys have had a solid group of players go away with the U18 Highlanders team and build themselves even more as players and it has already shown to have strong effects on the team. They are sitting second on the table right now and so they will need it when the top four begins in the Otago Comp.
14) St Peter's College (14)
They need this win. Not just because it's a big rival game but because they need to get back into that top four in the 1A competition. We have learned not to count St Peter's out when it comes to these times in the year. St Peter's played Gisborne Boys' on Saturday and put up a great score and were playing freely as well and so I am hoping that carries through to this Grammar game and they get some much needed table points.
Next up: vs (3) Auckland Grammar School, at St Peter's College 2.30pm
13) De La Salle College (13)
Right now De La Salle College are in a good position where they can start making a quiet move up the ladder of the 1A and try to surprise everyone. They have Liston College who have struggled this year and so De La Salle have to really try and keep that going throughout their game as well. De La Salle have the leaders, star players, coaching and spirit to get to the top four and so they will be a good team to watch over the next few weeks.
Next up: vs Liston College, at Liston 2.30pm
12) St Bede's College (12)
Still one of the best in the UC Championship, St Bede's are not looking like they are losing anytime soon. It doesn't look like they will fall out of the top four and so they need to just play to get a home semifinal and also to keep up that winning attitude and feeling in the team. The star players have been great for them and have come back stronger from the Crusaders U18 camp over the holidays.
Next up: vs Shirley BHS, St Bede's 2.45pm
11. Kelston Boys' High School (11)
Last week of the games before the holiday Kelston Boys was sitting at the top four of the 1A and then lost to De La Salle College, when they were leading 17-0 at half time. Kelston Boys' need to win every game and even as hard as this one is this week, they need to win it to stay connected to the top teams. They have dropped a few games and now have to play every game like it's a final to get the results.
Next up: vs (7) St Kentigern College, at Kelston 2.30pm
10) Scots College (10)
The Wellington competition right now has already set its teams for the top four and so Scots will be looking to hold on to the Williment Cup and also get the team prepared for the semifinals coming up in a few weeks. Now I'm not saying that they forget about this game because they will give every team their respect. In terms of the competition table Aotea College are not a threat to the points and so Scots College will not feel a lot more pressure to win this game by big margins.
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Next up: vs Aotea College, at Scots 2.30pm - Williment Cup Game
9) Nelson College (9)
It is a long way from Nelson to Christchurch and these trips can really take it out of you. Nelson College are going to have to do it again this year for the fourth time and that could be something that could stumble the team if they are not careful. Nelson are on a great run as a team and the individuals on the team are also going great with Crusaders U18 selections. Nelson need to be careful because St Thomas could be a giant killer in the comp and Nelson don't want to be Goliath in this scenario.
Next up: vs St Thomas Canterbury College in Christchurch, 12pm
8) Sacred Heart College (8)
Sacred Heart have always been a team that makes it to the semifinals each year for the 1A Comp and do it with solid teams. They are now in a position where they are sitting at fourth but right on the edge of falling out of the top four. They will need to have a good win this week against MAGS and try to score as many points as they can because at this point in the season you need those bonus points to secure the top four spots.
Next up: vs Mount Albert Grammar School, at MAGS 2.30pm
7) St Kentigern College (7)
St Kentigern College are back to full strength and are looking very strong right now as all the pieces are coming together. They will travel out to West Auckland and play Kelston Boys' and hopefully keep that winning going as they have only dropped one game this whole season.
Next up: vs (11) Kelston Boys' High School, Kelston 2.30pm
6) King's College (6)
The boys from King's just got back from U18 Blues Camp and also from Palmerston North where they won on Saturday against Palmerston North Boys' High School. They are going to need to stay focused on the 1A as they are in second place and need to win all the rest of their games starting with Aorere College this week.
Next up: vs Aorere College, at Aorere College 2.30pm
5) Hamilton Boys' High School (4)
Hamilton BHS are looking to travel to the East Coast to play a struggling Gisborne Boys' High team. Gisborne BHS have not had a full team all season and so Hamilton Boys' will look to expose a team that hasn't put in a lot of game minutes together. Hamilton BHS are always a really tidy team that stay focused on game plan and execution. A group of boys were selected for the Chiefs U18's camp and so they will come back this week with a new motivation and drive.
Next up: vs Gisborne Boys High School in Gisborne 12pm
4) Rotorua BHS (3)
After a tough loss away on Saturday to Auckland Grammar, going down in the last two minutes, Rotorua Boys' hit the road again this Saturday. They will head down to Palmerston North Boys' and try to pull off a much-needed win away from home in the second to last Super 8 game. Rotorua BHS is sitting third but need to get to second place over Hamilton BHS to play in the finals. Rotorua BHS have the team to make it to the finals, they just need to do it and believe it can happen for them.
Next up: vs (21) Palmerston North Boys' High School in Palmerston North 1pm
3) Auckland Grammar School (5)
"Battle of the Bridge" this week against their rivals St Peter's College at "The Cage", St Peter's College home ground. Auckland Grammar are now No.1 in the 1A ladder and are looking to stay there as the regular season is coming to an end. Auckland Grammar have a long rival with St Peter's and so this game will have a lot of feeling in it and the "friend card" for all these boys will be out the window till the final whistle blows.
Next up: vs (14) St Peter's College at SPC 2.30pm
2) Otago BHS (2)
Otago Boys' are far beyond being caught by the rest of the pack and remain at the top of the Otago Comp. They will need to bring their best game in the next up and coming weeks because they will only play the top 4 teams and that means having to play Southland Boys', John McGlashan College and King's High School which are all going to be hard games. They will take care of Waitaki BHS this Thursday and then look to the next match up.
Next up: vs Waitaki Boys High School in Oamaru, Thursday 1pm
1) Hastings BHS (1)
Hastings Boys' remain No.1 in the country and will look to try and put away Tauranga Boys' College this week and hold tight to that top spot in the Super 8. There are only two more games left in the Super 8 season and then the final so they will need to find form quickly after this holiday break. A few boys were invited to the U18 and U17 Hurricanes camp so some of them will be loose and ready to go for this week but it's the others that will need to get out the holiday feeling and switch back to winning rugby.
Next up: vs Tauranga Boys' College in Hastings 1pm