Controversial try robs Roncalli of victory
Roncalli College were robbed of their first win over St Andrew's by a dubious try right on fulltime in the Crusaders Region Secondary School Competition.
Fleet-footed St Andrew's first five Richie Mo'unga broke the Roncalli defence and scampered 30 metres to the corner and appeared to bounce the ball but referee Mike O'Brien awarded the try and then the St Andrew's captain calmly slotted the conversion to score what seemed an unlikely 27-25 win.
Timaru Boys' High School kicked off their season with a win at home 39-7 over Lincoln High School.
Their five-try win also secured a bonus point to share top spot after the first round.
The other two teams to win in the southern section of the competition were St Thomas 8-3 over Rangiora High School and Ashburton College held defending champions St Bede's to 31-5.
Roncalli looked the better side against the bigger St Andrew's outfit but couldn't quite put them away despite several decent opportunities.
The Roncalli side, however, led all the way until the final second of referee's time so would be disappointed not to start the season with a big scalp.
The home side started strongly with prop Carisbrook To'omalatai and open-side flanker Liam Cosgrove making strong runs before the ball was sent Ben Watson's way and the second-five broke a tackle to score a good try.
Two minutes later centre Robbie Mulvena made a strong run, beating three defenders to score and with Dan Dorgan converting both, Roncalli were up 14-0 inside 10 minutes.
St Andrew's replied with a penalty to Mo'unga before Roncalli went very close again.
Cosgrove responded to a call and offloaded the ball, which was spilt, when he could have likely made it on his own and had St Andrew's really under the hammer. The visitors were, however, willing to spin the ball wide and after turning down a kickable penalty, right wing Sean Murray scored after a good buildup from fullback Todd Henderson.
Three of St Andrew's' tries were scored down the right wing when Roncalli were caught napping.
Replacement front rower Leon Pye then scored after some good forward drive and Dorgan converted the try to go up 21-10.
St Andrew's again spread the ball wide with left wing Matthew Holmes making a good run down the right hand side to put right wing Murray in again.
Mo'unga landed the sideline conversion but Dorgan had the last say of the half with a penalty to make the score 24-17.
The second half proved a tight battle but with 15 minutes left Dorgan landed another penalty to put his side up by 10.
St Andrew's weren't done, however, and again Roncalli were punished out wide with Murray grabbing a hat-trick to make it 27-22.
Roncalli then appeared to have wound the clock down before Mo'unga's bust and the brilliant sideline conversion stole the win.
Roncalli's forward pack showed plenty of passion and committed plenty of players to the breakdown.
They were heavily penalised and were also guilty of too many knock-ons close to the line.
Captain Regan Breen and blindside Luke Williams competed well in the lineout while Cosgrove and To'omalatai had very good games, carrying the ball well.
Mulvena was the best of the backs with some strong defending and some good busts, while Jordan Hooke had a very tidy game at halfback.
Fullback Thomas Pavletich also made some good runs while Dorgan got the backline functioning well.
For the visitors Mo'unga controlled the play while Murray's finishing was almost perfect.
Up front hooker Ben Calder had a good game while loose forward Moryn Cowan also impressed.
At Alpine Energy Stadium Timaru Boys' High School were never in trouble but it took a while for them to get going, up 17-0 at halftime.
Their pack kicked into action in the second half with lock William Rooney working hard all game, while loose forwards Willie Todd and Josh Screiber also stood out.
Wing Cain Tweedie-Cunningham was the best of the backs, looking for work, and was rewarded with two tries while captain Tom Shelker was solid at halfback.
TBHS' other tries went to second-five Tyrone Hill, prop Graison Dale and Screiber, with Bradley Surridge landing two penalties and two conversions, while Josh Dick also converted two tries.
- The Timaru Herald