Timaru Boys' find glory at last in the mud
Timaru Boys' High School broke a three-year drought when they finally wore down Roncalli College 11-6 in their annual First XV clash.
The victory gives TBHS an unbeaten start of three wins in a row in the Crusaders Region Schools Championships, while Roncalli have recorded a solitary win.
The game was played in front of a large crowd on a water-sodden ground at Roncalli that turned to mud, making free-flowing rugby difficult.
TBHS, who started favourites, dominated territory and possession in the first half but it took until 20 minutes before halfback Tyler Blackburn snuck over in the corner.
Five minutes later Roncalli went into the TBHS red zone for the first time and No 8 Luke Cody almost drove over but instead they were awarded a penalty, which first-five Michael Lees converted.
TBHS then went back on attack but couldn't break the staunch defence.
On the stroke of halftime, first-five Nathan McCloy snapped a handy left foot drop goal to give his side an 8-3 lead at the break.
The second half started much like the first with errors from both sides, but with TBHS dominating.
Only tigerish defence from Roncalli held them out.
Midway through the half TBHS captain James Hawkey only just missed a brave 40m penalty attempt but it seemed to spur Roncalli on.
They charged back into the game and landed a penalty to close the gap to 8-6 and then Lees had a difficult chance to snatch the lead but it fell short.
Hawkey didn't make any mistake after Roncalli were penalised in front of their posts, leaving Roncalli needing a try to tie.
In the final five minutes they threw everything into it and just as they looked threatening a forward pass cost them.
TBHS then won a crucial lineout on a Roncalli throw and made two excellent turnover steals at the breakdown to hold on, to the delight of their supporters.
In the end TBHS were the better side as their forwards dominated but a poor lineout cost them at crucial times, while a couple of wayward final passes also kept Roncalli in the game.
The conditions made it difficult for any backs to shine but both first-fives McCloy and Lees had their moments. In the forwards, Roncalli open side Liam Cosgrove had a huge game with a high workrate while the rest of the pack were desperate in defence.
TBHS's No 7 Corin Miller also had a very good game and was in everything, while prop Graison Dale also impressed.
Dale was delighted after the whistle, having been in a losing TBHS team twice before.
"It feels good after three years," he said.
TBHS coach Shane Enright said the mud was a real leveller.
"We blew three or four real opportunities but we will take the win and move on," he said.
Roncalli coach John Simpson said the team was too slow at the start.
"TBHS are a good side but had a couple of close calls gone the other way, the result may have been different," he said.
- The Timaru Herald