Opunake win secondary schools rugby title
A determined and desperate defensive effort was the major reason behind the Opunake High School's first XV winning the Taranaki secondary schools premier A rugby title at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday.
Opunake put a lack of possession and territory to one side as they tackled themselves to a standstill to beat Hawera High School 20-5.
From the outset it was Hawera who enjoyed the lion's share of the ball as they held on to possession for long periods.
Their biggest problem, and it was a theme throughout the match, was their inability to score from their advantage.
Time and again they used one-off runners close to the ruck to gain ground before they spread it wide.
While they made inroads they never really threatened the line as Opunake's well organised defence shut them down.
The other major problem was Hawera's continued handling errors, although Opunake were also guilty of spilling the ball when they started to make ground.
To their credit when Opunake were afforded the odd chance, and often it came from long range, they put Hawera under real pressure.
They opened the scoring through a long range penalty to first five-eighth Luke Berquist, although it looked to many in the stand that the ball had dipped under the bar.
When they were given another chance to double their lead, Opunake instead opted to take a tap kick, their endeavour rewarded when Berquist got himself over the line.
That gave them a 10-0 halftime advantage before they were again forced to defend for long periods at the start of the second half.
Hawera's defence was not as good, however, as they leaked a second try to wing Benjamin Shelford who crossed to make it 15-0.
While Hawera got one back it was Opunake who had the last say as they scored at the death to seal victory.
At a glance
Opunake High School 20 (L Berquist, B Shelford, D Kahukaka tries; Berquist pen, con) Hawera High School 5 (I Hippolite try). HT: 10-0.