MANUKURA ease past Hato Paora in Prem 1 final

Secondary School Finals day in Manawatu was to have a change of scenery in 2018. The usual venue at Massey University was clsoed due to the heavy downpour on Friday afternoon. A late change prior to the departure of the school buses meant that for the first time finals day would be held at Bill Brown Park. A year ago the venue wouldn't even feature on the possibility list. However work by the PNCC, MRU and Kia Toa Club Committe has seen the venue dramatically change with the PNCC upgrade of the changing rooms and relocation of the main field allowing for three fields which were more suited to play on than Massey and CET Arena.

The opening game of the day was the Youth 2 final between PNBHS Jnr 2 and Cavanagh Transport FAHS. What was expected to be a tightly contested game was going to be won by the team who fronted up physically. PNBHS put their best foot forward and took it to FAHS from the outset. Two tries in the opening minutes and a third disallowed due to a forward pass showed PNBHS were the team to beat. This continued throughout the game, their forwards were dominant and backs were able to operate in space. A penalty try added more points to the tally however FAHS finished the stronger scoring a try late and finishing on a high. PNBHS ran out winners 33-5 to claim the Youth 2 title.

Wanganui High School who were the solitary Premier side from the neighbouring unions in the final started slowly against PNBHS 3rd XV. With a larger midfield dominating in the early stanza of the Premier 2 final. Wanganui however looked to have the better lungs and an intercept try and another in the corner put the team within a point with a handful of minutes on the clock. Whilst Wanganui tried everything to get their hands on the ball PNBHS never relinquished it and held on for the win 15-14.

Hato Paora 2nd XV would play the curtain raiser for their 1st XV in the Premier 4 final against Awatapu College 1st XV. Hato Paora had the upper hand in round robin play however on this occassion the Awatapu backs looked the better and Under 16 Rep player Malachi Nuku Nuku generated good go forward ball up front. Awatapu would turn the tables on Hato Paora this time to take a 27-12 victory.

The main event was the Premier 1 final where Hato Paora would take on MANUKURA in what would be a celebration of Maori Rugby even more so given the combined roll of both schools didn't exceed 300 pupils. It highlihgted the talent at both schools in a quality display of rugby. Whilst the wet track would slow the progress of both teams somewhat it was MANUKURA who would make an early move and adapt tot he conditions the best. Hato Paora who had beaten PNBHS 2nd XV the week prior in what was essentially a knock out game looked to have played their final already. MANUKURA scored 4 converted tries to Hato Paora' solitary penalty to claim their back to back title.

The remaining Youth finals would return to Bill Brown Park on Saturday 25th to round out the secodnary school season.