Squad depth key for OBHS in South Island final

Dejected Otago Boys High School players leave the field at the University Oval on Saturday after...
Otago Boys High School rugby team. Photo by Craig Baxter.
There is nothing wrong with brute force but Otago Boys' High School has been playing with more finesse this season.

Coach Regan Turoa hopes that will serve the team well in the South Island secondary schools final at Littlebourne today.

Otago Boys' will host the impressive Nelson College at noon.

Both sides boast big packs and speedy, skilful backs. But Littlebourne is a mud bath at this time of year, so the conditions will be heavy.

The state of the surface lends itself to a forward battle. But that might not necessarily be the case.

Otago Boys' played some running rugby in the Otago final against King's High School two weeks ago, winning 34-17.

As far as a dress rehearsal, it went well, Turoa said.

"It was testing conditions but what I liked about the game is King's really brought the acid and we responded and played quite a tactical game," he said.

"The boys were thinking and not just going out there to smash everybody."

Those refinements have come just in time. Bullying tactics probably would not work against Nelson College, which defeated Christchurch Boys' High School 35-31 in Nelson to claim its first regional title in 12 years.

"They have a very good pack and good set piece. Their loose forward trio are very handy and they like to play with a bit of width.

"I was very impressed with them."

Nelson College is well-led by inspirational captain Anton Segner.

He scored two tries to help clinch the win. He moved to New Zealand from Germany in 2017 to chase his dream of playing rugby at the top level.

Nelson College winger Ben Faingaanuku is threatening and fullback Daniel Rogers has tremendous pace.

But Otago Boys' defensive structures have held up extremely well this season.

It is shaping as a key battleground for both sides, which on paper appear very evenly matched.

Turoa hopes his side has superior depth and that may well be an area where the home team has an advantage.

"I think we go quite deep ... and I think the advantage we've got is just our squad of 22. We can bring the bench on who will actually lift as well and that would be our strength."

Otago Boys' has a strong core with the likes of first five-eighth and captain Tevita Asi, winger Michael Manson, centre Jake Te Hiwi and No 8 Taylor Dale. But the tight five will be important.

Dunstan High School plays St Andrew's College in Christchurch in the South Island co-educational final.

SI secondary schools final

Littlebourne, today, noon

Otago Boys’ High School: Max Brown, Tylar Diack, Jake Te Hiwi, Fausia Loulanting, Michael Manson, Tevita Asi (captain), Motoki Tanaka, Taylor Dale, Oliver Griffin, Oliver Haig, Caleb Hughes, Levi Turoa, Tevita Pole, Harry Hansen, Marika Parker. Reserves: Thomas Ryan, Simon Pupuali’i, Semisi Taeiloa, Lucas Govearts, Jack Holland-Spinks, Shuntaro Moriyama, Hopoate Finau Jr.

Nelson College: Daniel Rogers, Connor Johnston, Ollie Inch, Louis Carmine, Ben Faingaanuku, Niko Barton, Mason Lund, Taya Brown, Anton Segner (captain), Hunter Leppien, Charlie Perkins, Tom Thornalley, Preston Marsters, Jack McDonald-Hill, Isaiah Malaulau. Reserves: Hunter Griffith, Shiloh Edmonds, Sateki Abbot, Jontee Taylor, Justin Yokoyama, Connor Wilkins, Baydn Walker.

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