Rugby: Tide of battle turns against Waitaki Boys'

Tries, triumph, tears and tension - games like this remind you why schoolboy rugby can be drama on a magnificent scale.

St Kevin's College sealed a stunning come-from-behind win to make it three straight victories in the annual Blood Match at Whitestone Contracting Stadium yesterday.

Seconds after halfback Brady Kingan kicked the winning conversion from near the sideline, the young men in blue exploded in joy, leaped into each other's arms and were swamped by their delirious schoolmates invading the pitch.

It was the first time since 1990 that St Kevin's had won the Leo O'Malley Memorial Trophy (''the Peanut'') for a third consecutive year.

While the Redcastle raiders celebrated, the wounded Waitakians slumped to the ground with empty looks in their faces and, in some cases, tears cascading down their cheeks.

They had led 17-0 and then 34-24 with 15 minutes to play before inexplicably turning down a penalty attempt right in front.

Perhaps First XV rugby should not mean as much as it does to young men like these, and to the thousands of pupils, parents and supporters who attend, but it does.

In the end, it was almost a shame there had to be a loser.

This was an epic clash between two worthy sides that each scored five tries, and while the odd moronic chant from the sideline rather spoiled the atmosphere, the on-field behaviour was almost exemplary.

St Kevin's got plenty out of its monstrous front row and propping leviathan Paea Palaa helped himself to two tries, while the best player on the field was power-running centre Connor Newlands.

It was a special day for fullback Josh Macaulay, who had the very rare - possibly unique - distinction of starting in three consecutive St Kevin's teams that won the Blood Match, and also had younger brother Angus in the team with him.

''It's about the school and the supporters. A lot of people come back to watch it. It's quite a big thing,'' Josh Macaulay said.

''We haven't had a really good season. But everyone gets up for this. Waitaki came at us and we knew we had to go back at them.''

For Waitaki, captain Josh Hayward was magnificent around the field, ably supported by Logan Dunlop and Sailosi Vea, and young first five Llew Johnson, outside the 10 minutes he spent in the bin, showed off some of his skills.

Waitaki will lament some mistakes in the final quarter that hurt its chances of regaining Oamaru bragging rights.


First XV
The scores

St Kevin's                                 36

Paea Palaa 2, Connor Newlands, Sami Havea, Will Sunderland tries; Brady Kingan 4 con, pen

Waitaki Boys'                          34

Daniel Halaholo, Funaki Lavemai, Piliu Tavake, Sailosi Vea, Logan Dunlop tries; Llew Johnson 2 con, pen, Halaholo con

Halftime: St Kevin's 24-22. 


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