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John McGlashan College recorded a stunning 17-15 victory against Otago Boys’ High School in the Otago final of the National First XV Championships on Saturday.
It is believed to be the first time McGlashan has beaten OBHS in a First XV match and a good portion of the school was at Bishopscourt to witness history being made.
The final whistle was followed by wild celebrations, as the players were swamped by their supporters.
McGlashan led 10-0 at halftime and extended its lead to 17-0 shortly after the resumption, when hooker Brett Kingsbury jolted the ball free with a big tackle and first five-eighth Luke Jarvie scooped it up and ran 80m to score.
Otago Boys’ responded with three second-half tries, the last in injury time, when impressive loose forward Sam Dickson crashed over.
McGlashan supporters flooded the ground and a passionate haka capped off a marvellous victory for the underdog.
McGlashan will head south to Invercargill this weekend to play Southland Boys’ High School in the Highlanders area final.
McGlashan coach John Kyle felt his side built its victory based on some tremendous defence.
"No question. The defence was up there," Kyle said.
"The boys were really courageous. You don’t have to make that many tackles in a game that often. We really had to dig deep and the boys were really up for it."
Otago Boys’ had a lot of territory and possession, particularly during the opening half. But McGlashan kept making the tackles.
McGlashan shunted the Otago Boys’ pack around at scrum time but struggled in the lineouts. Dickson and OBHS captain Isimeli Tuivaga were particularly impressive in the air.
Openside Henry Bell led the way for McGlashan, while captain and No8 Rory Ferguson was never far from the action and made a significant contribution to the tackle count.
Prop Reon Lowery had a storming game, scoring the first try, and was part of a surprisingly good scrum.
But Jarvie’s try was arguably the turning point. Otago Boys’ had started the second half with more zip but his runaway effort was a major setback.
Otago Boys’ kept the pressure on and, after a long build-up, reserve hooker Mitch Pryde went over to set up a thrilling finish.
McGlashan had a tense wait under the posts at the end of the game and the captain was elated when the conversion drifted wide.
"I think in the 98 years at the college we’ve never beaten Otago Boys’ so we’ve made history today," Ferguson said.
"But full credit to Otago Boys’. They never give up and you saw that out there."
In the co-ed tournament, South Otago High School beat Dunstan High School 46-17. St Kevin’s College won its match with Kavanagh College by default and will play South Otago in the final in Oamaru tomorrow.
● Taieri defeated Eastern 27-17 in the premier 2 final in Waikouaiti on Saturday.
Otago first XV final
John McGlashan College 17
Reon Lowery, Luke Jarvie tries; Ryan Neill 2 con, pen
Otago Boys’ High School 15
Sam Jones, Mitch Pryde, Sam Dickson tries.