Nelson College's under-15 Blue side have gone through the 2012 side unbeaten after they overcame Waimea College 20-5 thanks to a clinical second-half performance in the under-15 final at Tahunanui on Saturday.
Although many of the matches have been tightly contested, especially against Waimea and Nelson College Black, Nelson won all of their 11 games including the final. Nelson racked up a grand total of 349 points while conceding only 118 - that's an average score of 31-10.
In another impressive feat, Nelson were restricted to scoring fewer than four tries on only two occasions, picking eight four-try bonus points and scoring four tries to one in the final.
Nelson ran away with the match in the second half, but in the first period Waimea threw everything they had at Nelson, controlling the ball for long periods. Nelson's fullback, Junior Tui, was the only scorer in the first half, exploiting a defensive error to cross out wide, beating a desperate attempt from the cover defence.
The second half was all Nelson as they stuck to a formula that has been so effective for them this season, setting forward targets, building phases and unleashing the backs. The forward play in tough conditions was generally good, led by hooker and captain Joseph Brady. The back play was also effective, with first-five eighth Jayd Cosmatos showing out in his first year of rugby.
When all of your outside backs get on the score sheet, you know the forward pack has created a decent amount of front-foot ball which has been distributed well. In the second half of the final, Cosmatos crossed the line along with both wings, right wing Jamie Malthus and the powerful Sa Akuhola out on the left.
Waimea fullback Braden Rudolph crossed with time almost up, a consolation try but good reward for the side that were second best on the day but never gave up.
Andy Dwyer, coach of the under-15 champions, said there had been a buzz around the team leading up to the final.
"The year has been pretty disrupted and it was hard to keep everyone motivated throughout the season. But obviously . . . finals week . . . they know that no matter that you've won all your games up until then, its two teams on the day and whoever wants it the most will come out with the win."
"It was a pleasure to coach the team, but I would like to mention the dedication of assistant coach Stuart Doyle."
Doyle, who lives in Ikamatua, came up to training once a week and was at most games. Considering it is a 500-kilometre round trip, the level of commitment to the team in which his son plays is certainly commendable.
Dwyer also said manager Michael Brady did a sterling job given the constant changes in the scheduling of the games.
The season was constantly disrupted by ground closures as well as the Motueka team pulling out after recording seven losses in a row.
That forced a bye each week, and only three teams remained in the competition - the finalists and a second Nelson College team.
Nelson College Black were another very handy side, and the semifinal between them and Waimea was a cracker with Waimea sneaking home 22-17. As the top-ranked side, Nelson Blue advanced to the final automatically.
All sides have contributed to the Nelson Bays under-15 representative side. Nelson Bays under-15 squad: Motueka High School, Victor Kelly; Nelson College, Kyle Ormsby, Joseph Brady, Lachlan Doyle, Pete McEwen, Owen Davies, Jake Amelin, Connor Higgins, Liam Doherty, Brent Dalley, Ben Tunnicliffe, Jade Cosmatos, Patrick Millar-Leef, Fa'ave Meleisea, Tima Fainga'anuku, T J Peeni-Tianana, Sa Akuhola, Tipene Honetana; Waimea College, Jake McLachlan, Storm Steer, Roen Shellock, Jayden Woolley, Takaka: Alex Chubb, Kieva Littlejohn, Kane Davis.
If you have a secondary school sports story that you'd like to see in the Nelson Mail, contact sports reporter Jonathan McKeown or phone 03 546 2873.
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