Tu Toa at least had the courage to front up to the uncorked genie that is the Palmerston North Boys' High School 1st XV in mid-season.
Boys' High had a second-half romp in the 83-6 win in the Manawatu national knockout playoff at Boys' High on Saturday.
Tu Toa have had their internal challenges this year, as co-coach John Kendal alluded to. He hopes that in a year or two their development programme, starting with their good group of under-15 players, might be a match for future Boys' High teams.
"We knew it was going to be hard and that they are on the up," Kendal said. "At halftime we were keeping some respectability, then they split us through the middle.
"We're rebuilding in terms of the split of the two schools, so this was a test of character."
Tu Toa had a mix of younger boys who were mostly dwarfed by Boys' High's giant backs. Once the likes of five-eighths Matt Maoate, Taare Ferris, Shaydn Osgood, Taylor Transom and Ben Werthmuller had the westerly at their sterns in the second half, they broke through at will.
For Tu Toa, who had led for 14 minutes, the final whistle was merciful. They did win a tighthead, but battled to clear from their scrum and their passing was all over the shop. That suited flanker James Kellow who pounced while Tua Toa lost fullback Toangina Nikora-Davis with a dislocated elbow.
They did win sound lineout ball through tall lock Taihakurei Durie and No 8 Keanu Moke looked to have promise. Later when they had two boys in the bin, Boys' High were rampant as they added 61 points in the second spell.
Tu Toa needed to put the ball through more phases and to capitalise when big Warriors-contracted No 8 Fabien Kiri was binned.
The match started in a surprisingly low-key fashion, flat almost. Neither team performed a haka and there weren't the raucous sideline chants of last year when Boys' High had to battle to win 18-8.
This time even when they had all of their subs on and star wing Jackson Ferris off with an ankle injury, the tries kept coming every two minutes. Sadly for Tu Toa, they struck a Boys' High team at peak, even though missing starting forwards Roydon Miller and Liam Giltrap, and in such form they would be a match for any 1st XV in the country now.
They will put that to the test in their next clash, against Auckland's King' College in Palmerston North on July 19 in a 10.30am game.
Boys' High coach Blair van Stipriaan said the game "made a bit of a statement" as his team chases a sport in the new Super 8 final this year.
"Full credit to Tu Toa for turning up," he said. "They said they want to play us to get to a certain level. It is hard for us in the competitions we play, but for us to get to play Francis Douglas [Memorial College] we had to get through this one."
PNBHS 83 (Matt Maoate 2, Taylor Transom 2, Jeremy Dobson 2, Shadyn Osgood, Brayden Iose, Taare Ferris, Jackson Ferris, Fabian Kiri, Ben Werthmuller, Hayden Spencer, tries; Transom 5, Maoate 4 cons) Tu Toa 6 (Jaycob Wiggins-Gray 2 pen) HT 22-6. Super 8 scores from Saturday: Napier BHS 31 Rotorua BHS 16, Hastings BHS 69 New Plymouth BHS 0, Hamilton BHS 10 Tauranga 0.
- Manawatu Standard
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