MAGS win first XV na­tional ti­tle

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - LIAM HYSLOP

Mt Al­bert Gram­mar are the na­tional first XV rugby cham­pi­ons af­ter a gritty 14-13 win over Hast­ings Boys’ High School in the fi­nal.

It was a wet Massey Uni­ver­sity Rugby In­sti­tute in Palmer­ston North which greeted the teams last Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The con­di­tions led to a mul­ti­tude of han­dling er­rors, although both teams were still able to dis­play good run­ning rugby.

Af­ter the teams traded early penal­ties, Mt Al­bert dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion in the first half.

They made that pay mid­way through the half when flanker Isa­iah Pa­pali’i used his strength and low body po­si­tion to bur­row over from close range.

Hast­ings were strug­gling to con­tain the Mt Al­bert back­line, find­ing them­selves on the wrong side of a 9-3 penalty count in the first half as they at­tempted to slow them down.

The few times Hast­ings did have ball in hand they looked dan­ger­ous. First-five Danny Toala made a cou­ple of line breaks, only for the Mt Al­bert de­fence to shut him down be­fore he reached the 22.

Hast­ings fi­nally got a good spell of pos­ses­sion in the last 10 min­utes of the half, but Mt Al­bert’s de­fence held strong.

An Oliver Shep­herd penalty in the first three min­utes of the sec­ond half had Mt Al­bert up by eight points.

Hast­ings made a big push to get back into the game at that point with a good spell of play in­side the Mt Al­bert 22, but knock-ons let them down.

Toala knocked over his sec­ond penalty of the game to get his side back within five points with 23 min­utes to go.

Hast­ings left wing Trent Hape was sent to the sin bin for not rolling away at a ruck - his side were ear­lier warned for in­fring­ing in their own 22.

It al­lowed Mt Al­bert back into the game and Shep­herd landed a penalty to again estab­lish the eight-point buf­fer with 12 min­utes to go - it would prove to be a win­ning lead.

Mt Al­bert flanker Thomas Bar­low also went to the bin with five min­utes to go for a dan­ger­ous tackle, then Hast­ings’ Lin­coln McC­lutchie joined him there for dis­sent to­wards the ref­eree.

It was a fran­tic clos­ing ex­change in which Hast­ings scored a con­verted try af­ter the fi­nal hooter to Je­riah Mua, but Mt Al­bert had al­ready se­cured the win.


Mt Al­bert Gram­mar’s Isa­iah Pa­pali’i dives over to score.

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