Francis Douglas prevail in hard-fought battle

Bragging rights and progress to the next stage of the national secondary schools' competition.

They were the major prizes Francis Douglas Memorial College walked away with, as well as the Max Carroll-John George trophy, after their 20-17 win over New Plymouth Boys' High School at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday.

In the end, there was nothing between the sides, just a penalty in fact.

They both gave it everything they had, which was evidenced at the end as the Boys' High players lay prone on the ground.

Boys' High had every reason to feel shattered. They had looked like the winners for large parts of the game but in the end they could not stop a brilliant solo try to replacement wing Enele Fidow, who carted players on his back over the line.

Francis Douglas also had the benefit of Eli Kneepkens' accurate boot as the first five-eighth landed five penalties.

While Boys' High were shattered, Francis Douglas coach Tim Stuck would have been livid had his side lost after a crucial call went against them when referee Cam Stone called them back for a scrum on halfway when a Kneepkens drop-kick went dead.

They had all the momentum but seemed to lose it at that point.

Still, Stuck was not too worried at the final whistle.

He was more pleased his side have now beaten De La Salle, Palmerston North Boys' High School and Boys' High in succession.

"They are quality schools and we are really happy about that," he said.

He also paid tribute to the composure Kneepkens showed because he was getting plenty of advice from the crowd. "He did really, really well," Stuck said.

Boys' High coach Daryl Lilley had no complaints.

"It was one of those games that could have gone either way and I'm just so proud of the way my boys performed in the way they defended and attacked," he said.

Boys' High captain Daniel Waite was at the heart of most of it but it would be unfair to single anyone else out because they all gave it everything.

For Francis Douglas, you couldn't help but be impressed by the work of flanker Paddy Ford.

Taranaki Daily News