It was tough conditions for rugby on the first official day of winter, but that just meant Whanganui Collegiate 1st XV truly earned their spot in the top tier of the Central North Island points table after a 19-12 win over Francis Douglas Memorial College on Saturday.
Heading to New Plymouth for their third straight away game in the CNI, Collegiate still had reason to feel confident, given Francis Douglas had lost 21-15 to their home town rivals NPBHS, only a week after Collegiate travelled up to beat Boys High in a preseason match.
Nonetheless, history was against the Whanganui school, having never defeated Francis Douglas since CNI began in 2012.
In his report, coach Steve Simpson said Collegiate soaked up a lot of pressure in the first 20 minutes, defending their line valiantly while playing to a strong wind.
Going on the attack after concerted effort from the forwards, No 8 Semi Vodosese squeezed over in a pile up of bodies at the corner flag.
The home side hit back straight away to level the match 5-all, while Collegiate had one last chance before halftime to break the deadlock with centre Sione Osamu making a strong run at the corner, only to be held up by the Francis Douglas fullback.
"Using the wind well early in the second half WCS applied sustained pressure of their own and Osamu had another a good run, this time feeding the supporting Dillon Adrole for a try," said Simpson.
Requiring a team mate to steady the ball on the tee in all of his kicks, Te Atawhai Mason added the conversion for 12-5.
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Again, Francis Douglas hit back immediately, as an error at the restart let Francis Douglas get good field position for a seven-pointer of their own to lock the scores up again.
Simpson said that Osamu was not done, however, and after some excellent buildup between forwards and backs, the centre cut through the last line to run back towards the posts to score, with Mason adding the extras.
"As conditions worsened, with a heavy hail storm and freezing rain, the whole WCS team played with skill and determination to hold on and gain a hard fought first victory," said Simpson.
The coach said Taumauru Hond had his best game of the season against the school he attended for intermediate, while both halfback Adam Lennox and first-five Harry Godfrey played well in the conditions and the young Shaun O'Leary continues to impress with his all round game.
The victory gave Collegiate a 2-1 record in the 10 team CNI competition so far, moving them to the top end of the table.
Their next game is Wednesday at home against Hamilton's St Paul's Collegiate, who were unbeaten after two games.
Kickoff is 12pm.