Team effort snares Nelson title
A solid game plan and a superb personal haul of 23 points from Jacob Whitaker has seen Nelson College Black overcome a dangerous Takaka side 43-17 in the under-16 rugby final at Jubilee Park on Saturday.
The Nelson College team, coached by Graham Pitman and Bill Coventry, have been beaten only once in 16 games this year, but they were very conscious that the Takaka side brimmed with attacking talent. Garry Munro, the Nelson College under-16 manager, said the well-drilled side knew what they had to do heading into the match.
"Takaka have got some very dynamic backs and a big part of our game plan was to shut down their backline and kick behind them. We had to score quickly in the first 10 minutes because if we didn't get ahead we were going to be doomed."
Nelson shot out to an early 12-point lead but, true to form, Takaka came storming back with two quick tries to reduce the deficit to 19-10 at halftime. After the break it was again important to get on top of the boys from across the hill early, as it was still anyone's game.
College were able to gain the upper hand and exert some dominance towards the end of the match, which saw Takaka reduced to 13 players after receiving both a red and yellow card. Two tries to Sam Goffriller and one to Flynn Pentecost-Goldingham couldn't match the seven scored by their opposition.
For Nelson it was a comprehensive win. Captain Toby Munro crossed, along with Denvour Keil, while year-9 student Tima Faingaanuku scored a brace to go with Whitaker's hat-trick.
This College side certainly has some star power, with Whitaker scoring 27 tries and kicking 33 conversions for a staggering season total of 201 points. That's a tick over 12 points and just fewer than two tries a game on average.
Not far behind is colossal Thai national Kawkai Vachiranuwong. The towering figure has been playing prop this season and crossed the line 18 times. The talk around the team officials is that young Kawkai is an international player in waiting if he chooses to return to Thailand.
However, it is not just a team with a few good players. One or two standouts couldn't cut it in a grade that was particularly tough and the whole squad contributed to a cumulative total of 622 points, while only conceding 161. That's an average score of about 39-10.
Munro said that the team used a strategic plan to prevent oppositions from singling out key players.
"We don't rely on one or two players, other teams know about our big players so they may put two people on them and shut them down. But if they do that we just change our game plan to move it wider and bypass those players.
"We are a very well coached team and we play 15-man rugby and the big thing is structure."
As there is no under-17 Nelson College side, don't be surprised if close to half a dozen of this title-winning team make the First XV next year.
Nelson College 43 (Toby Munro, Denvour Keil, Tima Faingaanuku, 2, Jacob Whitaker, 3, tries, Whitaker 4 con) Takaka 17 (Sam Goffriller, 2, Flynn Pentecost-Goldingham, Stacey Forbes con). Ht: Nelson College 19-10.
The following players have been selected for the Nelson Bays under-16 rugby representative team.
Nayland College: Kendell Hudson, Peter Faingaanuku, Hamish Burke, Cory Jones; Nelson College: Kawkai Vachiranuwong, Toby Munro, Isaac Salmon, Jack Malcolm, Todd Pointon, Reece Fuller, Jacob Whitaker, Turoa Stevens, Connor Columbus, Quentin Strange, Brendon Asamuoa-Goodman, Bailey Pitman, Matthew Soper; Waimea College: Sam Madden, Riley Heslop, Vili Inisi, Jacob Berthelsen, Jarrod Downing; Takaka: Alex Renton, Jazz Lee. Coaches: Grant Pitman, Paul Downing. Manager: Garry Munro.
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