Waimea set to host final
Story by: Jonathan McKoeown - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes / Shuttersport
It wasn't going to be Nelson College's day, as probably the quickest try in Press Cup history set the scene for a 29-7 semifinal loss away to St Bede's College in the Crusaders region secondary school rugby championship.
However, Waimea College will have another week of training ahead as they scored four second- half tries to march into a home final in the Bowl competition, beating Ashburton College 38-10.
A thorn in Nelson College's side for the entire match, St Bede's big lock James Tucker showed early just how much of an irritant he was going to be. Tucker got up to re-gather the opening kickoff and perforated Nelson's defence, breaking down field and linking with his lock partner Misimoa Lamositele to send the St Bede's captain over in the corner after all of 10 seconds.
The day didn't get much better from there for Nelson as Tucker reaffirmed his aerial prowess to poach an Nelson lineout which led to another quick try and the visitors were chasing the game, a St Bede's penalty pushing the score out to 17-0.
Although they were down early against a bulky and heavily favoured side, Nelson didn't drop their heads. In his 50th match for the First XV Mitchell Drummond displayed the character and skill that has allowed him to achieve a rare milestone, sparking Nelson's match.
From a ruck about 40m out the heads-up halfback spied a gap on the edge, his burning break setting up second-five Tamaira Raurimu-Carew under the sticks. Drummond converted as Nelson fought back to 17-7 at halftime.
That was as close as it got as St Bede's played to their strengths, using a considerable size advantage to bash away at the Nelson defence. St Bede's two second-half tries came from a series of pick and goes inside the Nelson 5m line. A solid set piece, fixed defence, a decent kicker and a well organised forward pack made for a simple brand of winning rugby.
Bill Liddell, coach of the Nelson College First XV, said his side met a better team on the day.
"We weren't good enough. They scored a try after six seconds, so it was a terrible start. They were too big, too strong, too well organised and that's just the way it was.
"The team showed a lot of heart and when we got continuity and fast ball we were able to stay with them but the fact is their forward pack secured over 60 per cent of the ball."
With Nayland College losing to Rangiora in the Plaque semifinal, only Waimea College's season will press on as they look to win the Bowl for the top side in the bottom eight of the Press Cup competition.
Waimea College last won the Bowl in 2008 and only Shirley Boys' High School stand in their way as superior fitness and backline brilliance saw the home side break the shackles of a constricting first half to record a convincing semifinal win over Ashburton at Waimea College.
Three first-half penalties to Luca Roden saw Waimea lead just 9-3 at the break. The home side dominated both territory and possession but weren't able to finish off, the odd inopportune dropped ball bombing some simple chances.
Creating opportunities wasn't a problem and when Waimea got their hands right they were lethal, going on a 29-point second-half scoring run. Playing in his 50th match fullback Fletcher Matthews celebrated by scoring the first two tries.
From the restart a backline move advanced Waimea in terms of field position before Matthews took the final pass and crossed the line. He had a bit more work to do for his second. After being put into space Matthews showed a clean pair of heels over 40m to get to the line.
Sean Clementson got on the score sheet after Matthews sent him through a gap with the fullback to beat. A Clementson incision then set up No 8 Lucas Bateup to cross for Waimea's fourth.
Adding three conversions and one further penalty Roden kicked 18 points as well as directing play. Ashburton got a late try to close the margin but they left well beaten.
The Waimea backs could hardly be contained, led by 50 cap veterans and former midfield partners Clementson and Matthews. A mix of good footwork and power exploited any one-on-ones created by the solid work of a well-drilled forward pack. The ball carrying ability of prop Dan McLauchlan and lock, captain Tim Coman along with the other forwards sucked in the Ashburton defenders.
Tony Cadigan, coach of the Waimea College First XV, said he had faith in his team's ability to come through in the end.
"The message at halftime was to hold onto the ball, because as soon as those passes stick it will pay off because we were dominating the game in all areas.
"Ashburton got really tired and fell off tackles while we had plenty of energy."