Monday, May 20, 2013

South Island Secondary Schools Elimination Final - Aranui High School versus St. Thomas of Canterbury College


In a tight tussle for the South Island spot in the Premier grade of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby League Nationals, Aranui High School hung on to beat St. Thomas of Canterbury College 20-14.
Aranui scored early, sucking the Saints’ defence into the middle, and then spreading it wide to stroll across unopposed for their first try. Aranui crossed again to take an 8 nil lead. After gaining some big yards through Gaius Reweti, a sweeping back line move had James Gillies across in the corner for St. Thomas. Tom Reekie’s conversion made the score 8-6.
Some very solid defence kept the game in the balance until Aranui’s tactic of running at the smaller players in the St Thomas defensive line created a hole and their number 12 sprinted 50 metres to score taking Aranui High’s lead out to 12-6 where it would stay until halftime.
Two tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half rocked St. Thomas as Aranui’s lead ballooned out to 20-6 and a crushing victory looked on the cards for the more experienced eastern suburbs side. A canny substitution by coach Andrew Auimatagi saw Klayton Waikato take charge of the Saints offense, and some big runs and quick plays by Antonio Toleafoa saw the balance change dramatically in St. Thomas favour. First Ben Motuliu crossed in the corner, and after sustained pressure he scored again, bringing St Thomas within 6 points of Aranui, setting up a tense final 5 minutes.
A tired Aranui side held on playing some tight football to run the clock down and achieve a deserved victory. Saint Thomas players can hold their head high, having tackled and run with heart and will improve immeasurably with every game they play.

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