St Peter’s were triumphant in today’s 1st XV 1A Final at Eden Park. A week on from their last gasp triumph over St Kentigern, they came up against a determined King’s College side.
The game was barely 30 seconds old when a charge down off King’s first-five Zarn Sullivan led to the opening try to the Saints which was duly converted.
There was no doubt that St Peter’s, buoyed by the majority of the 8,000+ in attendance, found another gear. They were camped inside the King’s defensive 22-metre for the next ten minutes and eventually found their way over the line once again, this time through rampaging blindside flanker Semisi Tapa.
The Kingsmen were able to get on the board soon after with a nicely positioned penalty from straight in front of the uprights. This could have signaled a shift in the momentum, however St Peter’s were able to work their way down the field and proved clinical inside the red zone once again, finding their way over the line from close range through centre Apetone Vaka.
Kings needed points quickly to stem the flow and they found it after working St Peter’s from side-to-side. It was a neat line from wing Temple Kalepo off a Thorn Parkes pass that saw him crash over right beside the posts to narrow the lead to just seven.
Just before the halftime break Kings were able to claw another three points back to trail by just four at the break.
The second half started as the first finished with Kings slotting another penalty goal to take them within a solitary point of St Peter’s. The pace of the game seemed to be getting to St Peter’s and this was emphasised when Kings first-five Zarn Sullivan scythed his way through a tired looking defensive line to put the Collegians in front for the first time.
With ten minutes gone in the second spell St Peter’s found another gear and it was their turn to use the full width. Slick hands saw winger PJ Tonga slide over in the south-east corner to restore their lead.
Just like in the first half, one try quickly became two for St Peter’s. After hammering away at the King’s line, some silky skills saw towering lock Malipolo Manukia barge his way over. From wide out, first-five Ajay Faleafaga made no mistake with the conversion to increase the Saints lead to eight.
Not to be outdone, the Collegians struck back, exploiting a ragged St Peter’s defensive line with centre Lukas Halls showing a clean pair of heels and outstripping the cover defence. With the conversion successful, St Peter’s were left clinging to a one-point lead.
The final ten minutes were frenetic. St Peter’s had a number of golden opportunities to secure the match and King’s literally had the winning of the match slip through their fingers with the line beckoning. However, it was St Peter’s in the end who claimed the title in dramatic fashion.
St Peter’s College 29
King’s College 28