The Marlborough Boys’ College First XV kept their hopes of featuring in the University of Canterbury plate semifinals alive with a 37-22 victory over Timaru Boys’ High School in Blenheim on Saturday.
MBC dominated the early stages of the match, which may be their last at home, scoring three unconverted tries to lead 15-5 at halftime.
When they established field position they created momentum from clinical phase play and eventually found the try line.
Two more tries from their wingers in the first 15 minutes of the second spell saw the home side take a 27-8 lead before taking their foot off the throat of a gritty opponent.
Timaru bounced back with two converted tries to reduce the margin to five points, at 27-22. With the game in the balance, MBC kicked away again in the final stages to wrap up a deserved bonus-point victory.
The home side’s victory was based around a hard-working forward unit, led by front-rowers Andre Hebberd, who picked up the day’s final try, Tino Vakaloa and hooker Te Ariki Peipi, who also got on the scoreboard. The return of skipper Ollie Lawson after a lengthy injury break provided another boost, the big No 8 creating momentum with ball in hand and operating well at the breakdown. Fellow loose forward Bayley O’Hagan, another tryscorer, was all energy on both attack and defence.
The back division were not always as accurate as required but created space with clever lines and timely passes, especially when replacement winger Lotu Solomona entered the game. Wingers Ben O’Sullivan and Clyde Paewai, plus midfielder Tristian Taylor, showed slick attacking skills.
Lawson said it was “good to be back with the boys again and to get a win under the belt”.
“This whole week we came back refreshed and trained well. Now we are just working hard and taking it a game at a time, hoping to make the [plate] play-offs.”
The skipper said the home side’s replacements had made a difference. “I have full confidence in our bench to come on and do the job.”
Timaru were unlucky to come away with no competition points, putting on a gritty display led by inside backs Liam Parker and Jacob McKinlay, plus powerful No 8 Patelesio Latu.
MBC currently sit six points off eighth position and a place in the second-tier plate play-offs. They play Roncalli in Timaru this weekend, followed by St Thomas in Christchurch to end their round robin campaign.
Scorers: MBC 37 (Keelan Murrell, Bayley O’Hagan, Te Ariki Peipi, Ben O’Sullivan, Clyde Paewai, Andre Hebberd tries, Dylan McManaway pen, 2 con) Timaru BHS 22 (Jacob McKinlay, David Edh, Liam Parker tries, Parker pen, 2 con). HT: 15-5 MBC
Other results from Saturday: Rangiora 83 Mid Canterbury 7; Lincoln 29 Waimea 17; Nelson 36 St Thomas 24; Christ’s 79 Roncalli 0; St Bede’s 25 Shirley 18; Christchurch 36 St Andrews 5.
Points table: Nelson 50, St Andrews 48, St Bede’s 42, Christchurch 40, Christ’s 38, Rangiora 34, St Thomas 30, Lincoln 29, MBC 23, Shirley 21, Timaru 19, Waimea 9, Roncalli 8, Mid Canterbury 2.