Wellington shut out Manawatu in U18 final
When Manawatu under-18s halfback Jamie Booth sniped over for one of his trademark tries early in the Hurricanes final against Wellington on Saturday, it seemed a good omen.
At the time Manawatu were playing into the wind and heavy rain, the forwards did the lead-up work and Booth beat two defenders to score.
However, Wellington had strong runners and scored a converted try on fulltime to win 24-16 after Wellington had been held to 14-7 at halftime. Manawatu had the wind and trailed only 17-16 with eight minutes left after Wellington had been gifted a penalty in front of the posts. A knock-on let them off the hook and gave them field position into the wind for the final try.
The home team, picked from Palmerston North Boys' High School, Feilding High School and Tu Toa, had enough chances to win the game.
But a few errors and missed tackles on the big Wellington hooker and No 8 turned the tide.
Wellington were heavily favoured, their team picked from 21 colleges, and the referee, from Wellington, penalised Manawatu off the park in the second spell.
The touch judges in this game weren't wired up to the referee, as they were in the adjacent women's match.
It helped Manawatu having national school players Booth, Tu Toa first-five Otere Black, who was composed as he guided the team around the field, and prop Jordan Brown.
Jack Stratton was sound at centre as was NRL rugby league prospect Piki Te-Ora Rogers at second five-eighth.
Coach Fusi Feaunati was pleased with the under-18 programme for identifying and developing players as future Manawatu prospects.
"In Manawatu we can be more than competitive without players going to bigger unions," he said.
At least five Manawatu senior club coaches were on the sidelines checking out the talent on Saturday.
Wellington Under-18 24 (2 tries, con, 4 pen) Manawatu Under-18 16 (Jamie Booth try; Otere Black con, 3 pen) HT 14-7.