Nelson claw their way to victory as Waimea fade at the finish
WAYNE MARTIN AND PETER GRIGG
Nelson College won ugly and gratefully banked the points against Ashburton College, while Waimea College suffered a second-half collapse in losing to Christ's College in the weekend's Press Cup matches.
Both teams were away for Saturday's fourth round of the secondary schools rugby competition, Nelson eventually getting up 17-0 in Ashburton, while Waimea suffered a heavy 31-3 loss in Christchurch.
Nelson showed their fatigue after three games on the road in an uninspiring and somewhat fortuitous victory over a spirited Ashburton College at Allenton Domain.
The hosts took it to their higher-ranked visitors in the first spell, and only some handling errors out wide nullified their attacking endeavours as Nelson College scrambled in defence. Ashburton had a marked territorial advantage, but it was Nelson who turned with a seven-point lead after a try to brave skipper Quinten Strange. He was injured in the warmup but battled on to inspire his team-mates to victory.
Wing Willy Havili, making his debut start, touched down in the second half when he completed a rare backline breakout with five minutes to go.
The scoring was completed by halfback Reece Fuller, who kicked 100 per cent with two conversions and a penalty.
Havili was one of the few Nelson College backs to distinguish himself as they battled to nullify a strong Ashburton backline led by a giant Fijian second five-eighth and a flying countryman on the wing. Turoa Stephens and Cory Whakatihi gave Nelson some front foot ball.
Nelson they will be disappointed with their performance and hoping for a more accurate display in their first home game, against Roncalli College this Saturday.
Waimea were well in their contest against Christ's College, trailing just 3-0 after a tryless first half, but four tries late in the second half saw Christ's finish in a canter to secure all five championship points. Waimea's only response was a second-half penalty to No 10 Jake Berthelsen.
Waimea showed plenty of promise during the first half, working hard defensively to stifle the Christ's attacks, only to be undone by poor handling and injudicious kicking.
Christ's gained their major edge at the breakdowns, where they forced numerous turnovers. They cashed in over the final stages, with their final try - from a charged-down kick - indicative of the mounting pressure on Waimea.
Locks Hayden Brown and Jeremy Lordan and No 8 Sam Madden impressed in Waimea's forward effort, and midfielders Jayden Woolley and Pyrro Gardynne were again solid.
Waimea are away to Shirley BHS next Saturday.
SCORERS Nelson College 17 (Quinten Strange, Willie Havili tries, Reece Fuller 2 con, pen) Ashburton College 0. Ht 7-0. Christ's College 31 Waimea College 3 (Jake Berthelsen pen) Ht 3-0.
- The Nelson Mail