Waimea show tenacity in tough match
The scoreboard confirmed Christchurch Boys' High School's predicted dominance.
However, the 55-13 scoreline did not altogether reflect Waimea College's dogged input to their opening round Press Cup secondary schools rugby clash in Richmond on Saturday.
Christchurch's nine tries, five of them in the second half, were often the product of slick ball movement and support play and ultimately beyond the means of a stretched Waimea defence. But it was by no means one-way traffic as a late first-half try to right wing Brendon Barnett and at least two other close first-half calls on the Christchurch line revealed a competitiveness that kept Waimea bouncing back throughout a tough season-opening assignment.
Christchurch were bigger across the park, with locks Geoff Cridge and Angus Cameron and impressive loosies, No8 Brad Hemopo and Hugo Nankivell, all key contributors to their overall forward effort.
Myles Thoroughgood and Anton Lienert-Brown provided a penetrative midfield combination, Hemopo, Thoroughgood and Lienert-Brown each scoring two tries, as Cameron also crossed during the first half.
Waimea hit back at every opportunity, although clearly without the clinical finishing ability or early season control of their opponents as Christchurch's superior physical presence eventually took its toll.
Christchurch led only 22-13 at halftime after first-half tries to Thoroughgood (twice), Lienert-Brown and Cameron, as Waimea's persistence helped put Barnett across just before the break.
Lienert-Brown, halfback William Hamilton, Hemopo (twice) and finally former Nelson College first five-eighth Fletcher Smith completed the second-half scoring as Waimea failed to add to their halftime tally.
Both teams frequently coughed up first-half possession at the breakdowns, allowing Waimea their opportunity to test Christchurch's defence. Christchurch were simply better equipped to turn their possession into points.
Waimea backs Levi McPherson, Fletcher Matthews and Sean Clementson each showed some encouraging signs on attack and prop Hamish Le Comte and flankers Dayne Paton and Kurt Malietoa showed grit up front.
In Christchurch, Nelson College eased to a decisive 41-0 win over Burnside High School while Nayland College suffered a heavy 61-0 loss to Christ's College.
Nelson scored six tries, two of them to halfback and captain Mitchell Drummond, after leading 21-0 at halftime.
However, a disjointed first-half performance eventually gave way to a more clinical second-half effort as Nelson gradually began to distance themselves.
Drummond (twice) and prop Connor McKinnon-Stevenson scored Nelson's first-half tries, with first five-eighth Mitchell Hunt, winger Ricky Persico and substitute midfielder David Havili crossing in the second. Drummond ended the match with 21 points.
The highlight of Nelson's performance was their outstanding defence in which flankers Mitchell Schwass and Sam Coventry both played key roles.
New boys, fullback Finn Hart-Strawbridge and centre Louis Loader and wingers Quade Dearman and Te Puho Stephens all had strong games, while lock Macca Misinale played impressively as a second-half substitute, showing plenty of aggression and admirable lineout skills.
Nayland struggled to match a much bigger Christ's College team in the set phases although still competed well in the loose in an otherwise lopsided scoreline.
Despite the damning scoreline, Nayland coach Ant Holder was nevertheless heartened by his team's gritty performance, particularly in their ability to contest the breakdowns and occasionally steal opposition ball.
Flankers Shawn Scott and Ryan Green impressed defensively, while prop Peter Faianuku worked tirelessly and Kendall Hodson showed solidity at both first and second five-eighths.
Christ's were simply too big and strong and, when it mattered, too well drilled for a Nayland side already steeling itself for another tough season ahead.
Christchurch BHS 55 (Myles Thoroughgood 2, Anton Lienert-Brown 2, Brad Hemopo 2, Angus Cameron, William Hamilton, Fletcher Smith tries, Smith 5 cons) Waimea College 13 (Brendon Barnett try, Luca Roden 2 pens, con) Ht 22-13.
Nelson College 41 (Mitchell Drummond 2, Connor McKinnon-Stevenson, Mitchell Hunt, Ricky Persico, David Havili tries, Drummond 4 cons, pen) Burnside HS 0. Ht 21-0.
Christ's College 61 Nayland College 0. Ht 25-0.
The Nelson Mail