Convincing win delights retiring coach
Story by: Wayne Martin - The Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes / Shuttersport
Retiring rugby coach Tony Cadigan acknowledged the perfect sendoff after his Waimea College First XV handed him some well-deserved silverware on Saturday.
Waimea's 32-14 win over Shirley Boys High School in the Press Cup secondary schools bowl final in Richmond allowed Cadigan the luxury of ending his three-year term with the team on a positive note after they outscored the visitors by four tries to two.
Predictably though, Cadigan was quick to heap all of the praise onto his players after sealing their season with an eighth consecutive win.
It was hard-earned and, as Cadigan acknowledged, not without its hiccups. But it was a victory borne of spirit and confidence as Waimea were pushed all the way by a highly competitive Shirley team.
"I'm just ecstatic for the boys, they've worked so hard for this," said Cadigan after the final whistle.
"I'm absolutely delighted with them, they're just such a great group. I'm going to really miss them actually."
Apart from Shirley drawing level at 7-all just seven minutes into the contest, Waimea led throughout and, despite some frustrating handling lapses, always looked equipped to secure the win.
They were frequently tested by some penetrative Shirley backs, particularly their slick centre pairing of Jordan Topai-Aveai and Ollie Edge, although another committed forward effort and strong running by the likes of centres Sean Clementson and Liam Sellars, wing Levi McPherson and fullback Fletcher Mathews provided Waimea with the ammunition they needed to keep Shirley at bay.
"We weren't perfect on the day and [Shirley] threw everything at us, everything they had . . . but 32-14, I'm pretty happy with that," said Cadigan.
He agreed that, despite making occasional mistakes, his players were always prepared to maintain their structure and back themselves by attempting to play entertaining rugby.
"That's what this group's had all year, that belief in each other to keep trying things. I always say to them, ‘don't ever clam up, don't ever stop playing footy'. I'm very proud of them."
Prop Hamish Le Comte gave Waimea their early lead after bullocking across in just the first minute before Edge beat the defence out wide six minutes later to help level the scores.
A Luca Roden penalty, followed by a handy piece of opportunism by flanker Kurt Malietoa who scored from a charged down kick behind Shirley's line, helped push Waimea to their handy 17-7 halftime lead.
Some excellent buildup saw Mathews across out wide eight minutes after the restart, and when Clementson latched on to a loose Shirley pass to help push the score through to 29-7 with 14 minutes remaining, Waimea looked well in control.
A try to substitute halfback Levi Curtin helped Shirley narrow the deficit to 29-14 before a superb 50m penalty goal by Roden helped seal Waimea's win. There was again total commitment from Waimea's feisty forward pack which was well led by lock and skipper Tim Coman.
A relieved and emotional Cadigan hugged each of his players after the match and left no doubt his coaching career is over. "The boots are on the roof," he said.
Waimea College 32 (Hamish Le Comte, Kurt Malietoa, Fletcher Mathews, Sean Clementson tries, Luca Roden 3 cons, 2 pens) Shirley BHS 14 (Ollie Edge, Levi Curtin tries, Jaymane Isaako 2 cons) Ht 17-7.