The 1st XV travelled to Wellington to play Wellington College for the Old Boys Shield. This game was also the last round of the Hurricanes Preseason Festival and was the last game prior to the Super 8 competition which starts up next Saturday against Gisborne BHS.
The game started with Wellington, enjoying the benefits of a solid Wellington zephyr at their backs, playing rugby inside our half. Defensively we were up to the task and forced them into handling errors. One such error allowed Ruben Love to pounce on a loose pass and streak away for a converted try. Our scrum once again started to come to the fore and this allowed us to get some possession. A well worked strike from a scrum resulted in Kalani Grant scoring a try and the team enjoyed a small period off momentum. Unfortunately this was undone by inaccuracies at the breakdown with the industrious Wellington open side flanker turning over ball at will. We continued to cause Wellington headaches with strikes from set piece but were unable to convert this into points until a searing break from Curtis Heaphy put Tevita Henare-Schuster over right on the stroke of halftime to give us a 19-0 lead at the turn.
The second half started positively and again our set piece gave us plenty of front foot possession. Our forwards started carrying well over the gain line with the cleaning up of the rucks and we were able to keep Wellington locked inside their own half. A solid scrum five metres out allowed Tamati Ruawai to pick off the back and carry three defenders over the tryline to dot down. Then a scrum disintegration and a snipe down the blindside by the impressive Matty Oldridge gave Ben Ruawai a try to cap off a fine game from him. At 33-0 with fifteen minutes to go, the most impressive stat was the 0 as our defence had fronted well. Unfortunately we were reduced to 14 men for a tap down foul and got a bit lazy and allowed the opposition to score two tries to reduce the deficit. Once restored to our full complement, we finished with a wet sail but were unable to cross the line despite some fine lead up work. Final score 33-12.
All in all, we played well in patches and retained the Old Boys Shield. We are showing lots of positive progress but again our ability to play accurately for sustained periods of time will be tested as the Super 8 starts up and we need to be more consistent in this area.
It was awesome to be able to celebrate the victory in the presence of Todd Collins and Matthew McKinnon from New Zealand Specialised Coatings, one of our sponsors. Also present was Mr Euan Hubbard, the patron of the White Jersey Club. Their support, along with our other sponsors, has been superb and we acknowledge their efforts and attendance at our games.
Tries: Ruben Love, Kalani Grant, Tevita Henare-Schuster, Tamati Ruawai, Ben Ruawai
Conversions: Ruben Love 4/5
Some photos from the match can be viewed on this link 1st XV vs Wellington College