The Whanganui Collegiate First XV has barged its way into contention for the Central North Island Secondary Schools rugby competition playoffs with a 43-3 win over traditional rivals Rathkeale College in Masterton on Tuesday.
Although Collegiate may have played one more match than most other sides in the CNI competition they have a foot firmly in the door, top of the table with 15 points before Tuesday's game.
Hamilton's St Paul's Collegiate School First XV, a side Collegiate beat 26-19 last Wednesday, is second on 14 points with both teams facing another four games before the playoffs.
The powerhouse Waikato side have won the CNI title four times in the past five years, and overall were unbeaten against Collegiate with four victories and one draw, 11-11 back in 2017, until last Wednesday.
Coached by Steve Simpson, Collegiate were slow out of the blocks against Rathkeale with the homeside scoring first through a penalty early in the first spell.
Collegiate director of sport Barry Touzel said it took the side the best part of half the first spell to get points on the board through a converted try.
"We have had the wood on Rathkeale for a while," Touzel said.
"They are a traditional rival and we have a long history, but it was also a CNI game. We took a while to settle into Tuesday's game against what was a very spirited team. In the second half we were a lot less selfish and started spreading the ball around.
"Our No 8 Semi Vodosese caused havoc up front and our hooker Ben Strang made some telling runs breaching their defence. At lineout time Hunter Morrison dominated, while Sione Osamu at centre carved them up scoring a couple of tries.
"I think we may have played one more game than others in the CNI competition, but we are right in contention for the playoffs this season," Touzel said.