Above: Scots College enters the arena on Sacred Heart College on day two of the Condor Sevens. Photo credit: Ben Gardner.
It was close, but no silverware for the Wellington schools at this year’s Condor 7’s nationals in Auckland. However, the four schools representing the province turned in highly commendable displays that certainly give support to the idea that Wellington deserves another permanent spot in each of the Boys and Girls competitions going forward.
For the third time in five years Scots College came within one game of claiming the national crown. However a slow start to the final against Hamilton Boys’ High School where they conceded twice early left them playing catch-up and despite a try to Eparama Sailo before the break their challenge was essentially ended when Hamilton scored a breakout try despite having a player in the bin. Skipper Jaylen Tuapola scored a consolation try as the Waikato school claimed their third successive title by 26-10.
Sam Rasch’s squad had opened their account with a 33-5 win over local side Otahuhu College before having a bye in the blazing afternoon heat after the late withdrawal of Rangitoto College. Their last game on day one saw them beat Nelson College 22-7 to claim top spot in their pool. In Sunday’s quarterfinal, they beat Timaru Boys 22-17, with the southerners scoring a pair of late consolations, before a Jack Gray try after the hooter saw them beat Tauranga Boys – who’d knocked Hastings Boys out of contention the day before – 24-19 in the semi-final.
Gray and Roderick Solo were both named in the Tournament team with their speed difficult for opponents to counter, while Tuapola, Sailo, Tama Kapene, and Tai Neli all had good tournaments.
Rongotai College started well, blitzing Pakuranga College 30-0 in their first game before coming from behind to beat Thames High 24-12 to set up a clash with Auckland regional winners Kelston Boys for top spot in their pool. However Rongotai struggled to handle their bigger opponents and the 10-26 result sent them to the Plate section for day two. Luck deserted them there though, exiting the tournament after a 5-24 loss to Wesley College in the quarter-final and then going down 12-31 to New Plymouth Boys’ High School in the consolation bracket.
William Rua, Reon Paul and skipper DJ Taoipu were amongst their best, with Matiu Samuel continuing his good form from the Wellington qualifier back on Labour Day.
St Mary’s College went into the defence of their title in high hopes, but without a number of the players that have brought them success over the past 18 months with Renee Savai’inaea, Ainsleyana Puleiata, and Lyric Faleafaga all absent. They still had enough class to get through pool play on day one with wins over Sacred Heart, New Plymouth (24-17) and Whakatane’s Trident High (26-10), and like Scots also had the benefit of a bye due to the withdrawal of Mt Roskill Grammar during the week.
The win over Trident looked like it came at some cost with Dhys Faleafaga limping off after scoring her side’s first two tries, but she lined up on day two as they beat Howick College in their quarter-final, before their reign ended 0-17 at the hands of Christchurch Girls’ High School in the semi-finals. Faleafaga was a threat whenever she got ball in hand, aided by Te Araroa Sopoaga and Lomia Fa’amausili with contributions from the whole squad although teams seemed to be able to keep playmaker Cheyne Copeland largely in check.
Debutants Aotea College can justifiably be proud of their efforts. It was always going to be a big ask taking their bow against one of the favourites in Hamilton Girls, losing 5-38, but rebounded with shutout wins over Bay of Islands College (25-0) and Otahuhu College (41-0). Those results put them in line to be one of the two second-placed sides to make the Cup rounds, but their points-difference left them just short of making that.
Sunday saw them win their Bowl quarterfinal 22-10 over Rotorua Girls’ High School before losing 20-21 to Sacred Heart, New Plymouth despite scoring four tries to three.
Coach Findlay Siania reports that Kayla Hauparoa-Rei had a big tournament defensively, Syntyche Maiava a handful carrying the ball, with Harmony Ioane and Paris Leilua Va getting amongst the tries. He nominates Maggie Chadwick as the sides MVP however, with the young Year 10 controlling things in the playmaker role.
Hamilton Girls, beaten by St Mary’s in the final of both the Condor’s last year and this year’s national XV’s Top Four, claimed their fourth title in beating Christchurch Girls 20-5 in the final.
Beat Otahuhu College 33-0
Beat Nelson College 22-7
Beat Timaru Boys 22-17 (Cup QF)
Beat Tauranga Boys 24-19 (Cup SF)
Lost to Hamilton Boys 10-26 (Cup Final)
Beat Pakuranga College 30-0
Beat Thames HS 24-12
Lost to Kelston Boys 10-26
Lost to Wesley College 5-24 (Bowl QF)
Lost to New Plymouth Boys 12-31 (Bowl consolation SF)
St Mary’s College:
Beat Sacred Heart, NP 24-17
Beat Trident HS 26-10
Beat Howick College 17-10 (Cup QF)
Lost to Christchurch Girls 0-17 (Cup SF)
Lost to Hamilton Girls 5-38
Beat Bay of Islands College 25-0
Beat Otahuhu College 41-0
Beat Rotorua Girls 22-10 (Bowl QF)
Lost to Sacred Heart, NP 20-21 (Bowl SF)