Third, against the odds

WHAT they accomplished is incredible.

The Gisborne Boys’ High School under-14s’ third placing at the Colquhoun Under-14 Invitational Rugby Tournament in Palmerston North was an amazing effort against schools with far more players to draw from.

Hamilton Boys’ High, the only team to beat Gisborne at the tournament, has five under-14 teams, Tauranga Boys’ College has five, Rotorua Boys’ High has four.

Gisborne Boys’ High has one u14 team but they began their tournament the right way, beating New Plymouth Boys’ High 17-7, before Hamilton snatched Game 2 from them on fulltime with a runaway try to make it 15-12.

They got back on track, 31-17, against Tauranga Boys’ College and beat Rotorua 33-22 in the playoff for third. Gisborne Boys’ High had been placed seventh of eight teams in 2016.

“It was all hands on deck in the game against Rotorua — our boys were all sore with three straight days of rugby, but they showed real character,” said Gisborne backs coach Wiremu Kaa.

“We were down and out with eight minutes to go but then we turned the corner. The adults were relieved when we won — the boys have worked so hard, training five days a week because at Palmerston North you have to hit the ground running.

“Kahu Falaoa (forwards coach) and I are very proud that the team wore our jersey and represented the school with great pride and dignity. Our first 15 coach, Tom Cairns, told me that we were flying the flag for Gisborne Boys’ High this year.”

Kaa said that their 24-man squad matched every team in Palmerston North for fitness.

Two players — prop Tawhiri Kirikiri and second five-eighth John Horua — will be eligible to play for the u14s in 2018 but may play at u15 level.

Gisborne Boys’ High’s leading tryscorer at the tournament was captain and first-five Anaru Paenga-Morgan, who scored four tries in Palmerston North, including one against Rotorua in the playoff.

The game against Rotorua — a 33-22 come-from-behind effort — differed in all aspects from Gisborne’s 52-5 hammering of them in the u14s Super 8 opener at the Rectory this season. Gisborne Boys’ High lost Game 2 of that campaign 15-12 to Hastings, this year’s national champions.

Prop Kitini Taihuka, No.8 Harlee Kohn (two) and centre Whetu King-Taufa also scored tries against Rotorua at Coronation Park, and Paenga-Morgan kicked four conversions to go with his try.

Rotorua coach Paerata Tahuiorangi described the game as hard and fast.

“We (Rotorua and Gisborne) had the two smallest forward packs at the tournament but both teams had skilful players,” he said.

“For us, right-winger Noah McMahon scored three tries in the playoff, our lock Pumi Black scored one try and our captain, first-five Bless Elliot, kicked a conversion, but the Gisborne first-five was awesome — he kicked goals from the sideline.”

Rotorua won the toss and played with the wind. They led 17-12 at halftime and 22-12 with eight minutes to play before Gisborne came back, scoring three more tries to win by 11 points.

Vice-captain and blindside flanker Lochi Mead was just one of many superb players for Gisborne Boys’ High on the day.

Kaa said: “Our goal was to put a stake in the ground, and say Gisborne Boys’ High School junior rugby is still strong. The boys did that.”

WHAT they accomplished is incredible.

The Gisborne Boys’ High School under-14s’ third placing at the Colquhoun Under-14 Invitational Rugby Tournament in Palmerston North was an amazing effort against schools with far more players to draw from.

Hamilton Boys’ High, the only team to beat Gisborne at the tournament, has five under-14 teams, Tauranga Boys’ College has five, Rotorua Boys’ High has four.

Gisborne Boys’ High has one u14 team but they began their tournament the right way, beating New Plymouth Boys’ High 17-7, before Hamilton snatched Game 2 from them on fulltime with a runaway try to make it 15-12.

They got back on track, 31-17, against Tauranga Boys’ College and beat Rotorua 33-22 in the playoff for third. Gisborne Boys’ High had been placed seventh of eight teams in 2016.

“It was all hands on deck in the game against Rotorua — our boys were all sore with three straight days of rugby, but they showed real character,” said Gisborne backs coach Wiremu Kaa.

“We were down and out with eight minutes to go but then we turned the corner. The adults were relieved when we won — the boys have worked so hard, training five days a week because at Palmerston North you have to hit the ground running.

“Kahu Falaoa (forwards coach) and I are very proud that the team wore our jersey and represented the school with great pride and dignity. Our first 15 coach, Tom Cairns, told me that we were flying the flag for Gisborne Boys’ High this year.”

Kaa said that their 24-man squad matched every team in Palmerston North for fitness.

Two players — prop Tawhiri Kirikiri and second five-eighth John Horua — will be eligible to play for the u14s in 2018 but may play at u15 level.

Gisborne Boys’ High’s leading tryscorer at the tournament was captain and first-five Anaru Paenga-Morgan, who scored four tries in Palmerston North, including one against Rotorua in the playoff.

The game against Rotorua — a 33-22 come-from-behind effort — differed in all aspects from Gisborne’s 52-5 hammering of them in the u14s Super 8 opener at the Rectory this season. Gisborne Boys’ High lost Game 2 of that campaign 15-12 to Hastings, this year’s national champions.

Prop Kitini Taihuka, No.8 Harlee Kohn (two) and centre Whetu King-Taufa also scored tries against Rotorua at Coronation Park, and Paenga-Morgan kicked four conversions to go with his try.

Rotorua coach Paerata Tahuiorangi described the game as hard and fast.

“We (Rotorua and Gisborne) had the two smallest forward packs at the tournament but both teams had skilful players,” he said.

“For us, right-winger Noah McMahon scored three tries in the playoff, our lock Pumi Black scored one try and our captain, first-five Bless Elliot, kicked a conversion, but the Gisborne first-five was awesome — he kicked goals from the sideline.”

Rotorua won the toss and played with the wind. They led 17-12 at halftime and 22-12 with eight minutes to play before Gisborne came back, scoring three more tries to win by 11 points.

Vice-captain and blindside flanker Lochi Mead was just one of many superb players for Gisborne Boys’ High on the day.

Kaa said: “Our goal was to put a stake in the ground, and say Gisborne Boys’ High School junior rugby is still strong. The boys did that.”

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