Final winners face new clash

CHAMPIONS: St Pat’s Silverstream captain Andy Knight with the spoils of victory and his team.
CHAMPIONS: St Pat’s Silverstream captain Andy Knight with the spoils of victory and his team.

St Pat's Silverstream did not earn a rest with their heroic 6-3 win over Wellington College in the premier one final on Sunday.

Instead, they will be putting their battered bodies on the line again six days later, against Gisborne Boys' High School.

Silverstream will host Gisborne in the Hurricanes region semifinal, at 1pm on Saturday.

Silverstream will go into the match as underdogs, but that won't be a new experience and they get the chance to knock over another glamour rival.

"We can definitely get up for the game again - everyone is looking forward to it," Silverstream No 8 Dylan Hayes said.

"We thought the Scots game [in the premier one semifinal] would be our last on the No 1 ground [at Silverstream].

"It will be good to get another one there and you gain a lot of confidence when you beat a top team like Wellington College."

Hayes, who was chosen as man of the match for the Wellington final by the Sky TV commentary team, was feeling the effects early this week.

"For just about the whole of the second half it was tackle, tackle, tackle. It was non-stop and my shoulders are pretty sore.

"But it was well worth it in the end. To be beaten by Wellington last year, when we had a stacked team, and then to come back with a young team and win this year - it's a good feeling," he said.

Hayes was also a standout for Silverstream with the ball in hand.

"I'm one of the senior guys and I try to lead from the front, but it was team effort and it was great that everyone stepped up."

The Silverstream players spent a good portion of Sunday night watching a recording of the local final. "Some watched it three or four times," Hayes said.

Gisborne, who beat Wellington College 25-21 in the Hurricanes semifinal last year, will be a formidable challenge for Silverstream.

Gisborne finished third in the strong Super 8 competition, losing to Hamilton Boys', Napier Boys' and Rotorua Boys', but beating Tauranga Boys', New Plymouth Boys', Palmerston North Boys' and Hastings Boys'.

The Gisborne backline includes the gifted pair of first five-eighth Beaudeine Waaka and winger Jonte Lexmond, who have made the Hurricanes schools' side for two successive years, while No 8 Toa Halafihi will be another threat.

Silverstream coach Rob Ackerman has no doubt his team will be motivated for Saturday's match. "They have enjoyed the season and it hasn't finished yet. They got a taste of it on Sunday and they don't want it to end. They don't want to pull the pin now."

Ackerman's admiration for the Silverstream's effort last Sunday was heightened when he was able to watch a replay on Sunday night, divorced from the emotion and stress of the live spectacle.

"It was only when I watched the replay that I really appreciated how gutsy and resolute they were on defence," he said. "They were up against a big pack of forwards and Wellington must have had 90 per cent of the possession in the second half.

"It was a massive effort [by Silverstream] and the gutsiest display I've seen from any side I've had anything to do with, and that includes junior and senior rugby," said Ackerman, who won a Scottish Cup with the Glasgow Hawks.

"Wellington are a good side and it was a bad day at the office for them. We were under the cosh in the second half and with the amount of possession Wellington had, they should have put us away. But it was our day."

The final was a cruel result for Wellington College, who had been the standout team this year.

Conditions did not help Wellington, but the players must still have left the field wondering how they failed to win.

There will be few times when one team is so dominant in a half, yet fails to score a point.

Wellington, who were down 6-3 at halftime, dominated the set pieces and possession and it seemed inevitable that they would score in the second half.

However, they could not turn their territorial advantage into points, even when Silverstream had a player sinbinned late in the game.

Missing four penalties - two in each half - did not help and Wellington also lost the ball over the goal line in the first half.

"It was pretty awful going through the replay and seeing how close we came to getting to the line," Wellington coach Lincoln Rawles said.

"On the whole, we put the ball in the right part of the field and made some good decisions, but the final execution wasn't there, albeit against a side that defended with great passion."


Contact Tim Barton
Racing editor and college sport writer

The Dominion Post