Varsity stun COB to join Yellows in battle for Hank
Finishing top of the table in McDonalds Manawatu Senior One Club rugby is continuing to prove to be no guarantee of the Hankins Shield title.
College Old Boys’ 35-6 loss to Varsity on Saturday confirmed that for a fourth consecutive season, the winners of the Centennial Shield will fall shy of the Hankins Shield.
COB were the last club to finish top of the table and win the Hankins Shield in 2015.
Since then, COB (2016 and 2019), Varsity (2017) and Feilding Yellows (2018) have all seen their dominant seasons fall shy of Manawatu club rugby’s biggest prize.
COB never came close to cracking the Hankins Shield final on Saturday as they turned on their worst performance of the season to be blown out of the park by a rampant Varsity side.
The Sky Blues have been in must-win mode for over a month and that preparation showed as they steam-rolled a COB side who have been in cruise control for the same length of time.
It was the Varsity forward pack who led the destruction with Nick Grogan, Mickey Woolliams and Tom Hughes leading the charge.
COB had no answer for the persistent charges and rarely looked likely of scoring tries.
A pair of Stewart Cruden penalties kept the scoreboard ticking over, but they still trialled 19-6 at the break.
Early in the second half, Varsity landed the knockout blow as a Nick Birchfield cross-field kick was batted back to wing Korie Winters to score.
Winters, Ueta Tufuga and Te Rangatira Waitokia were the best of the backs.
By the end of the match, Varsity had racked up five tries to nil and will head into the final with plenty of confidence.
Feilding Yellows looked equally assured during their 33-7 win over Old Boys-Marist.
Last season’s runner’s up looked much more comfortable in knock-out rugby this year as they pulled apart an OBM team missing key forwards Rhys Pedersen and Chris Long for much of the match.
Yellows took advantage up front with the Nick Crosswell and Kere Marino dominating set piece.
In the backline, Yellows were able to rely on the class of centre Josiah Maraku and the accurate boot of Brad Carr.
Carr landed 18 points from the boot.
Yellows were leading 30-0 and had prop Luke Clarke in the bin when Benedict Grant, OBM’s best performer, bagged OBM’s sole try.
In the Val Holland playoffs, Kia Toa bagged a try in the dying seconds to beat Te Kawau 21-18.
Meanwhile, FOB-Oroua brushed aside Freyberg 36-12 with Shai Wiperi bagging a hat-trick.
Freyberg turned on one of their better second half performances of the season, but they could not hold pace with last season’s champions.
Hankins Shield semifinals
Varsity 35 (Nick Grogan 2, Tom Hughes, Korie Winters, Doug Juszczyk tries; Nick Birchfield 2 con, pen; Scott Davidson pen) College OB 6 (Stewart Cruden 2 pen) HT 19-6.
Feilding 33 (Sean Rankin, Griffin Culver, Josiah Maraku tries; Brad Carr 3 con, 4 pen) OB-Marist 7 (Benedict Grant try; Hayden Hill con) HT 16-0.
Val Holland semifinals
FOB-Oroua 36 (Shai Wiperi 3, Lucas Puts, Max Fryatt, Junior Laloifi tries; Tom Stewart 2, Wiperi, cons) Freyberg 12 (Trevor Shane Baker, Kane Paul tries; Wiremu Morgan con) HT 19-5.
Kia Toa 21 (Keaton Kawana, Jeremiah Tuimanua-Fryer, Bethel Fauolo tries; Kawana 3 con) Te Kawau 18 (Juls Ruahine-Prattley, Harrison Black tries; Ethan Woodmass 2 pen, con) HT 12-7.