A round-up of secondary school rugby this week, with Rongotai College, St Pat’s Silverstream, St Pat’s Town,Porirua College and Aotea College in action on Tuesday an Wednesday, while Tawa College play visiting Liverpool side Merchant Taylor this afternoon and the Premiership competition resumes in full on Saturday.
Ropati So’oalo was one of two Premier two Wellington players selected in the Hurricanes U18 camp this year, along with Harry Plummer from Onslow College, and in September 2017 So'oalo was named Player of the Tournament at the Hurricanes U16 tournament in Wanganui.
On Wednesday night at Jerry Collins Stadium, So’oalo (a centre or wing) showed his considerable quality by scoring two tries in a 23-15 win by Aotea College over Porirua College in the College Sport Wellington Co-ed Cup final.
The match, which also doubled as a Beard Trophy fixture, was delicately poised with 20 minutes
remaining. Porirua led 15-11 when Aotea had a scrum 40 metres out. So’oalo received the ball on the right side and sharply accelerated to the left touchline beating at least three defenders before diving into the corner. The solo effort propelled Aotea into a lead they never lost.
Thereafter Porirua battled to gain meaningful territory and with five minutes left Aotea halfback
Jake Tibbits dummied at the Porirua 22 and dashed clear for the winning try under the posts.
It was an even and willing contest which featured five lead changes. Second-five Mati Matofai
kicked a penalty to open the Aotea account, but the Porirua forwards soon gained the
ascendancy and industrious lock Jabez Peniata battled over to make it 5-3.
So’oalo provided a less dramatic prelude to his later try when he scored Aotea’s first from a five-
meter scrum, slipping past two weak tackles.
Both sides traded penalties as Aotea led 11-8, but Porirua would lead 15-11 at halftime.
Openside Logan Ariu-Woolley busted into the Aotea 22 and quick recycling would lead to an
The individual brilliance of So’oalo combined with committed Aotea defence which caused a
high Porirua error rate was the telling difference in an entertaining spectacle.
Porirua surrenders the Beard Trophy, a 50-year-old prize which works like the Ranfurly Shield of Porirua schools rugby.
Aotea are Wellington Co-ed champions for the second time and for the first time since 2012.
Aotea will play Feilding High School in the Hurricanes Co-ed semi-finals in Palmerston North on 25 August.
So’oalo has scored more tries (14) than any other player in Wellington high school rugby this
season. That haul includes six in one game.
St Patrick’s College overcame St Pat’s Town by a record score of 52-10 to capture a clean sweep of their annual traditional fixtures for just the 11th time since 1931.
Silverstream remains unbeaten in Premier I and are overwhelming favourites to defend their title
after their 18th win a row locally.
second-five Maika Fifita made a clean bust off a lineout and raced 40-metes to touch down under the sticks to open the scoring.
Wing Fritz Rayasi dropped ball over the line two minutes later as Silverstream were rampant
Town regrouped and held Silverstream to 7-3 five minutes until halftime. Prop Jeremiah Tuiatua
was busy and his bust created a chance which Keelan Whitman failed to grasp. Boston Christe kicked a penalty to close the gap to 7-3 and narrowly missed to the right with his
Town’s lineout was wobbly and just before the break Iona Apineru collected a loose throw and
backhanded to prop Chris Hemi who charged over.
From the kickoff Silverstream first five Sam Clark retrieved a half-volley pass and glided into a
hole, reaching the 22. Silverstream won a penalty and from the tap stretched play to the
opposite wing where Raysai dotted down to make it 19-3 to Silverstream at halftime.
Silverstream captain and No.8 Luke Mannix scored a soft try, breaking a tackle and galloping
20-metres to start the second spell.
At this point Town’s will was broken and the floodgates opened.
Centre Scott Svenson and lock Neyla Masima scored long-range solo tries and reserve halfback
Swayde Brightwell made the most of his brief appearance by grabbing a double, including the
last try which brought up the record score.
Christian Stenhouse was the solitary try scorer for Town.
Silverstream and Town have played each other annually since the two St Patrick's College’s split in 1931. Silverstream have won 62 matches and Town 19 with five draws. Stream have only lost twice to Town in the annual fixture since 1997 and today achieved their highest score against Town passing the 50-14 win in 2004.
In 1988, Silverstream beat Town by the same margin of 42 points, but the score was 48-6.
Silverstream has completed their 11th Grand Slam, going through their annual traditional
matches undefeated. The other seasons in which a Grand Slam occurred were: 1933, 1936,
1937, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1967, 1985, 1988 and 2017.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Rongotai College hosted English touring outfit Kirkham Grammar
School in three fixtures.
Rongotai won the 2nd XV meeting 17-5 and the Under-16 clash 25-12, but succumbed 10-22 in
the First XV tussle.
In the First XV game the visitors scored the first points with a converted try.
Rongotai responded when standout centre Steven Va’a busted the first line of defence and
made a 40-metres angled run to the corner.
The English established dominance in the lineouts and this was the source of their next try.
With 15 minutes remaining, Rongotai was only down 12-5 when disaster struck. A nasty fight
erupted which saw two locals sent off.
Remarkably the hosts scored the next try when wing Tana Tusa finished an outrageous
passage of play involving multiple hands, untended rebounds from a kick and general chaos.
Rongotai acquitted themselves bravely undermanned, but handling errors always left them
exposed on the counter-attack and long-range tries for the Kirkham No.8 and the centre hurried the contest.
Kirkham is a private school in Lancashire founded in 1549. Richard Wigglesworth, presently in
the England team, is a famous old boy.
The remainder of the eighth and penultimate round of the Premiership First XV competition is this coming Saturday. We will preview this in tomorrow’s club rugby preview, but games at a glance are (all 2.30pm kick-off times, home team first):