The Marlborough Boys’ College First XV booked a place in the University of Canterbury Plate final with a decisive 30-13 win over St Andrew’s College in Christchurch on Saturday.
In a continuation of MBC’s late season revival, the Falcons built a 22-8 halftime lead playing into the wind, then restricted their rivals to a single second half try.
MBC’s five tries were scored by Keelan Murrell, who bagged two, Monu Moli, Lotu Solomona and Ollie Lawson, while Murrell landed a conversion and Dylan McManaway booted a late penalty.
MBC head coach Matt MacDougall said he was “really pleased with the boys”, especially in inclement weather conditions.
“”They executed the game plan perfectly. Just played good wet weather rugby. The pack just took on a big STAC pack up front and beat them up really.”
MacDougall said forwards Ollie Lawson and Bayley O’Hagan had shown the way up front, providing momentum and freeing up space for others. He also praised the work of halfback Ryan McLeod and first five Liam Duncan whose “kicking game was just superb”.
A blight on the day’s celebrations was a serious cheekbone injury to Te Ariki Peipi, the in-form hooker expected to be out for the rest of the season.
MBC have now strung five consecutive wins together since thrashing Waimea 73-7, the confidence beginning to flow through the team.
MacDougall said they had struggled against some of the bigger sides in the middle of the competition, “which knocked us a bit, and it just took that big win against Waimea before the break to get trust in what we were trying to do”.
“We also had a couple of key guys come back and now the whole side is playing with confidence, believing in everything they are doing. You can feel it throughout the whole group.”
The Falcons will meet Rangiora High School in the final this weekend, also away from home. Rangiora downed St Thomas 24-17 on Saturday to claim a place in what is effectively the fifth/sixth play-off.
A win over Rangiora would be satisfying for the MBC camp, MacDougall admitting the side’s round-robin losses to them and St Andrew’s had hurt the most.
“Rangiora are a team we would love to have another crack at, so it’s quite fitting that we play them in the final.
“I’m rapt with how we have finished the season, regardless of the result next week, but I am 100 percent confident we can get the job done, although we are on the road again next week.”
Meanwhile, Nelson College will host the UC Championship final after battling past Christ’s College 16-10 in the semi played at Nelson College on Saturday. They will meet Christchurch BHS, also in Nelson, next week after they accounted for St Bede’s College 42-32.
The UC Bowl final, for ninth and 10th, will be between Lincoln Combined and Shirley BHS.