St Peter's College: 29 v King's College: 28
Tangaroa College: 31 v MacLeans: 7
Christchurch BHS: 54 v Rangiora HS: 22
Christ's College: 24 v St Bede's College: 23
Hastings BHS: 43 v Palmerston North BHS: 21
St Paul's Collegiate: 24 v Feilding High School: 17
Otago BHS: 43 v Waitaki: 0 (Otago play Southland next week)
From fourth to first - St Peter’s win 1A!
St Peter’s College are the 1A Auckland First XV champions after a stirring 29-28 victory over King’s College at Eden Park.
For the second consecutive week, St Peter’s won by a solitary point after upsetting St Kentigern College 22-21 in the semi-final.
In the last minute King’s went within a whisker of stealing an unlikely triumph. Stranded deep inside their 22, King’s spread the ball to the left wing where centre Lukas Halls bullied through multiple tackles before kicking ahead for fullback Aidan Morgan and himself to chase.
A retreating St Peter’s defender fell over leaving Halls and Morgan unmarked. Five-meters short of the St Peter’s try line, Halls bent over to try and collect the ball, but an awkward bounce slipped through his grasp gifting St Peter’s the last scrum and the championship.
St Peter’s start was the total opposite of their nervy finnish. The Saints burst out a 17-3 lead after 20 minutes on the back of an imperious forward display. King’s had no answer for the St Peter’s onslaught as tries to Sam Wye, Semisi Tapa and Apetone Vaka had St Peter’s comfortably ahead.
Wye scored in the first minute charging down a Zarn Sullivan clearance while Tapa and Vaka were the benefactors of accurate and aggressive phase play.
St Peter’s discipline wavered and their lineout wobbled allowing King’s to gradually crawl their way back into the contest. Wing Temple Kalepo burst onto a short ball from halfback Thorn Parkes to score King’s first try and two penalties from Morgan made it 17-13 at halftime.
Morgan kicked a third penalty two minutes after the resumption to close the deficit to 17-16, before Sullivan propelled the Maroon colours 21-18 ahead with a 35-meter solo dash.
St Peter’s regrouped and a try to wing PJ Tonga reclaimed the lead, 22-21. Captain Niko Jones was largely responsible after an outrageous offload, behind his back, in a three-man tackle.
St Peter’s first-five Ajay Faleafaga played with a composure and skill older than his 15 years and a bullet pass to unmarked Malipolo Manukia expanded St Peter’s lead to 27-21. The sideline conversion, which traveled straighter than an arrow, was ultimately the most important kick of the match.
Kalepo emulated Jones in the offloading department, releasing in the vice of two tacklers to set Halls free for King’s third try and set up a grandstand finnish.
Both St Peter’s props Zyon Holo and Hamdahn Tuipulotu were relentlessly damaging and Tapa was named man of the match for his bruising contribution.
King’s enjoyed a healthy advantage in the penalty count, but critically Sullivan missed touch twice in the last 15 minutes.
St Peter’s have been semi-finalists six times in the past decade, but at last can call themselves champions for the first time since 2000.
The victory will no doubt be dedicated to Peter Watt and Dylan Mika, two legendary rugby figures at the college who passed away this year.