Nelson denied quad title by bold defence
It was a one try kind of a day.
And that's all it took for Wellington College to hold on for a desperate 5-0 win over a strong-finishing Nelson College side in yesterday's weather-ravaged quadrangular tournament rugby final in Whanganui.
A try to starting hooker Sitiveni Paongo five minutes into the second half was enough to hand Wellington their 12th consecutive title, and their 33rd of the tournament's 125-year history.
Paongo began the game at hooker but moved to loosehead prop for the second half of yesterday's rugged encounter, lunging across for the afternoon's only try following a period of sustained forward pressure on Nelson's line.
The wind had a significant bearing on the contest, with Wellington's win effectively centring on a magnificent first half defensive effort as they constantly denied phase after phase of Nelson forward attacks inside their own quarter.
With the wind at their backs, Nelson spent virtually the entire half camped inside Wellington territory but despite getting desperately close on a couple of occasions, were unable to breach Wellington's committed defence. Four penalty concessions in strong attacking positions clearly didn't help Nelson's cause.
No 8 Turoa Stephens led Nelson's attack with some typically powerful ball carries as captain Brendan Asomua-Goodman, fellow flanker Jake Amlehn and prop Jake Wetere also committed themselves fully to the task.
But the points never came, Wellington turning with confidence as they quickly exploited the wind at their backs to snatch their early match-winning advantage.
Nelson still made good headway into the wind, with one promising forward attack held up over the line five minutes from fulltime. Centre Tima Faingaanuku used his size and strength well to complement his forwards' committed efforts, Nelson ending the game on attack as a relieved Wellington side held on for a hard-earned win.
Replacement lock Quinten Strange handled a difficult lineout assignment admirably in the muddy conditions and disappointed skipper Asomua-Goodman knew his side had come within a whisker of securing what would have been a memorable win.
"The boys knew Wellington were going to be a good side and [we] put in a 110 per cent effort and that's all you can ask for really," he said.
"Wellington's forwards were really strong up front and we just couldn't crack them . . . that's the way it goes sometimes.
"It was pretty hard to get down there [into Wellington's half against the wind] . . . we did, but we just couldn't capitalise."
In the early game, two penalty goals by second five-eighth Ngatungane Punivai were also enough to give Christ's College a 6-0 win over hosts Wanganui Collegiate. A penalty success right on halftime gave Christ's a 3-0 lead heading into the break, Punivai adding his second 15 minutes into the second half to complete the scoring.
- The Nelson Mail