By Campbell Burnes
One of the centrepieces of the Barbarians calendar once again showcased some high quality secondary schoolboys’ rugby.
The top 4 weekend (September 6-8) at Rotorua Boys’ High School saw Tangaroa College of Auckland clinch its first national co-ed schools title, while St Kentigern College and Hamilton BHS won through to the September 14 national top 4 final with hard-earned semifinal victories over Otago BHS and Wellington College respectively.
In a repeat of the 2012 top 4 final, unbeaten St Kent’s, the world, Auckland and Blues region champion, was too clinical and dynamic for Otago BHS, defeating the South Island champion 27-7 with four tries to one. St Kent’s was dangerous on the counterattack, controlled the lineouts and general play with their continuity and support play. No 8 and skipper Blake Gibson was to the fore, as was man of the match, wing Suliasi Vunivalu, who crossed for a double. William Raea marshalled play well from first five, and slotted three goals. The win took St Kent’s unbeaten run to 52 matches, dating back to mid-2011.
Otago BHS gave its all, but the only tangible reward came in the form of a try to No 8 Tui Katoa, his 12th of the season.
In the other semifinal, the Chiefs champion Hamilton BHS successfully defended the Moascar Cup and wore down Wellington College, the Wellington and Hurricanes champion, 28-16, after the sides turned at 13-all. Hamilton BHS first five Bryn Gatland opened his team’s account with a nicely-taken blindside try, but the best moment came from a sparkling 50m individual chip and regather score from wing Isaac Te Tamaki. Hamilton BHS’ superior fitness told in the final analysis, as did the sterling work of its forwards, in particular man of the match lock Sam Chongkit.
On the Sunday, Tangaroa College annexed the national co-ed crown with a fine 32-13 win over Manurewa High School. Brilliantly guided by No 10 George Taina, whose dancing feet helped set up two tries and several other promising movements, Tangaroa went to the break 20-0 to the good. Manurewa High missed too many tackles in the first half, but tightened up and mounted a mini-comeback before a final flourish by the victors.
Barbarians President Mike Mills took pleasure in presenting the NZ Barbarians Trophy to the winning captain, No 8 Bill Fukofuka.
Other than Mills, other Barbarians on hand were John Cresswell (secretary), Bryan Williams (vice-president), Mark Moore (club captain), John Mills, Ray Reardon, Jack Smith, Keith Quinn and Warren Gatland. The latter was watching his son Bryn do his thing for Hamilton BHS, while Quinn was, as ever, doing the TV commentary for Landrover First XV on the Rugby Channel.
Quinn and fellow commentator Steve Davie made generous mention of the Barbarians name and it was nice to see the big Barbarians banner front and centre of the TV coverage.
Watch out for this Saturday’s national schools final from Hamilton BHS. Kickoff is at 2.45pm and it would be nice to see a few Barbarians from the region in attendance.
Top 4 semifinals:
St Kentigern College 27 (Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Jethro Felemi, Matthew Morrison; Cons: William Raea 2; Pen: Raea) beat Otago Boys’ High School 7 (Try: Tui Katoa; Con: Sio Tomkinson); Halftime: 13-0 St Kent’s
Hamilton Boys’ High School 28 (Tries: Bryn Gatland, Harrison Levien, Isaac Te Tamaki, Raukawa Neems; Con: Gatland; Pens: Gatland 2) beat Wellington College 16 (Try: Wesley Goosen; Con: Dante Matakatea; Pens: Matakatea 3); Halftime: 13-13
Co-ed final (NZ Barbarians Trophy:
Tangaroa College 32 (Tries: Loia Fetaoai 2, Bill Fukofuka, Sioeli Alofi, Corey Tawhi; Cons: Talavou Faumuina 2; Pen: Faumuina) beat Manurewa High School 13 (Try: Etuate Toronibau; Con: Matavao Funguna; Pens: Funguna 2); Halftime: 20-0 Tangaroa
Manurewa High School 24-6 Wairarapa College
Tangaroa College 52-7 Ashburton College
Co-ed third/fourth place:
Ashburton College 25-15 Wairarapa College
National girls’ First XV championship semifinals:
Southland Girls’ High School 32-20 Tamaki College
Feilding High School 30-19 Hamilton Girls’ High School
Girls’ third/fourth place:
Hamilton Girls’ High School 20-12 Tamaki College
Feilding High School 19-12 Southland Girls’ High School