Scots College snag rugby win

TIM BARTON
Last updated 20:00 10/08/2014

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Scots College have climbed their rugby Everest.

Scots snatched the Wellington premier one college title away from St Pat's Silverstream with the last play of the game at Porirua Park on Sunday afternoon.

Scots skipper and first five-eighth TJ Va'a kicked a penalty, from in front of the posts, to give Scots a 21-18 win. Had the game been drawn, Silverstream would have won the title as the top qualifier.

 The outcome was a case of fortune favouring the brave, with Scots always willing to give their talented backline a go, even from behind their own line, and rarely resorting to kicking their way out of trouble.  

''They keep playing that way, even if they do make mistakes sometimes,'' Scots coach Earl Va'a said.

It was the fourth successive year that the winning margin in the premier one final had been three points or less and followed another cruel defeat for Silverstream last year, when beaten 25-22 by Wellington College, after again being the top qualifier.

The Scots supporters poured onto the field following the winning penalty yesterday, to celebrate the school's first genuine Wellington championship.

 Scots, who had never beaten Silverstream before, shared the premier one title in 1989, but in an era when Wellington College, Silverstream, St Pat's Town and Rongotai played in the under-19 grade.  

The Scots first XV had spent much of the time since then in the lower divisions, but returned to premier one in 2010 and were competing in their first final.

Yesterday's final was a frenetic and pulsating match, which was not reflected in the halftime score of 3-3, with both teams having good try-scoring opportunities but unable to convert them.

Scots then looked to have established a winning break with two tries and a penalty early in the second half.

The second try came after Va'a was able to snatch the ball out of a Silverstream hand, when Silverstream were camped on the Scots line and looking likely to score.

Instead, Va'a hared upfield, before getting a pass away to speedy centre Malo Tuitama, who sealed the try.

''[Flanker] Michael Findlay put in a big hit and the ball was just there for me,'' Va'a said.

That made it 18-3 but Silverstream, who had not been beaten in the round-robin matches, refused to fold.

Winger Salesi Rayasi made something out of nothing down the blind to score and fullback Nathan Moen danced past a couple of tacklers to make it 18-15 with about 15 minutes to go, before Nic Mannix put Silverstream in the box seat, with a penalty inside the last 10 minutes. 

Scots second five-eighth Thomas Umaga-Jensen was named player of the match, despite taking a groin injury into the match. ''I'm tired, so tired,'' Umaga-Jensen said.

''But it's a great feeling and shot boys - we made history today.''

Scorers: Scots College 21 (Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Malo Tuitama tries; TJ Va'a three penalties & conversion) Silverstream 18 (Salesi Rayasi, Nathan Moen tries; Nic Mannix two penalties & conversion).

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- The Dominion Post

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