A second half of near perfect into-the-wind rugby paved the way for Francis Douglas Memorial College's 17-0 win over Feilding High School in New Plymouth.
Despite playing without the ball for much of the first half yesterday, Francis Douglas managed two opportunist tries to second five-eighth Nathan Clough to lead 12-0 at the break.
The margin looked like it was never going to be enough to take the spoils, especially with Feilding appearing the better side with the ball. They kept it tight, kept their discipline and were happy to roll from phase to phase as the Francis Douglas became frustrated at an inability to build momentum and keep the scoreboard ticking over.
What the first half did provide, however, was the perfect blueprint for Francis Douglas.
Just like their opposition, Francis Douglas enjoyed the mountain share of possession into the wind as they transformed their game to a pick-and-go, no-frills style that shut their opposition out.
There was little Feilding could do to combat it, especially once Francis Douglas stopped giving away penalties.
Their dominance of second-half possession was rewarded when replacement prop Daniel Furness crashed over under a pile of bodies to give Francis Douglas their 17-point buffer.
While the backs might not have enjoyed their day out in the conditions, the forwards got into their work in the second half, showing the urgency that was lacking in the first half.
Hooker Ricky Riccitelli was at the forefront of the action, making numerous carries, clearing bodies around the breakdown and generally showing the way for his younger team-mates. No8 Cameron Keech, who shouldered a lot of work, was just as busy.
While he needs to improve his body position and skill level from the base of the scrum, he gets over the advantage line more times than not. Outside the forwards, new first five-eighth Michael Blanks looked the most likely to create space and options for his outside backs.
He was well-supported by Clough, who took every chance available while remaining stout on defence.
FRANCIS DOUGLAS MEMORIAL COLLEGE 17 (Nathan Clough 2, Daniel Furness tries; Daniel Lampe con) FEILDING HIGH SCHOOL 0. HT: 12-0.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should there be bonus points in ITM Cup scoring?Related story: Bonus points make a mockery of premier competition