St Pauls bagged the 1B title at Colin Maiden Park on Saturday and a shot at 1A entry.
The arrival of renowned coach JP Faamausili at St Pauls had anyone in the know waiting for when not if, the Grey Lynn based Catholic school stamped its mark on the celebrated 1B competition…..and they did not disappoint!
The banks of Colin Maiden were packed on Saturday, with traffic backed onto Merton Road as 1000s gathered to witness this well coached outfit storm to a 38-9 victory over East Auckland heavyweights Macleans College. The Pakuranga Heights based school can be very proud of its efforts, in particular their star 9 Declan Murphy, who tried his heart out to inspire his team.
With the extreme dominance with which they performed to comfortably book their spot in next year’s promotion-relegation game to gain entry into the 1A competition, the school will no doubt be prepping their boys to get 1A status for the first time since mid-2000s.
Sio Kali and William Piliu were outstanding with ball in hand to leave defenders grasping at air with footwork and speed not seen for quite a while. St Pauls, with the gifted athletes littered across the field, showed why many were in awe of the style of play throughout the 2022 season.
For Macleans College, they will take pride in several players being named across the Auckland Divisional and Auckland Gulls rep teams.
For St Pauls, planning starts as they prepare to face Aorere College in 2023 for a spot in 1A.
1A Final Review
And then there was one……
The Ks stayed up at Eden Park as Kelston Boys went back to back to claim the 2023 ASSRU 1A title.
The Matt Howling inspired west Aucklanders battled away with the undefeated St Peters outfit in a final that had everything and went down to the wire, decided on the last play.
Joel Lauvale had an outstanding game. The 125kg destructive prop was at his best with ball in hand and set piece. The spark from the wings Ratu Naborisi and Star Sami and the defensive efforts of young Sammy Tuitupou was reminiscent of his father Sam, who many will remember sinking attackers brave enough to carry against him in the early 2000s.
St Peter’s shot out to an early lead with young 10 Louis collecting the loose ball and Etu Fukofuka adding the extras for the Kings of Mountain Road to get 10 points ahead.
With the North stand of Eden Park littered with the Red and Blue of Kelston and the Blue and Gold of St Peters, the packed stand could be mistaken for a College American Football atmosphere with the trumpets of the Peters Army in battle with the loud chants from Kelli Block.
With the game in the balance, Kelston found themselves on the backfoot as St Peter’s marched towards the white line through multiple phases. From the hard-working forward pack, who, apart from the middle 20min, dominated the Kelston pack. Still, Kelston’s desperation in defence kept the last ditch effort by the young St Peters winger at bay, sending their supporters into celebration and the Peters Army reeling about what could’ve happened. The despair on the faces of the St Peter’s students was shortly overcome with smiles as the St Peter’s base belted out their school song in support of what they had done on the field. For St Peters, the titan-like performances from their front row of Sika Pole, Caden Tuivaiti and Kurene Luamanuvae will have many old boys of the school with reminders of the Soana Tongahuia led team of 2000 with their consistent strong showings in the blue and gold this year.
But the day was for the boys from Kelston.
Inspired by a recent visit 300m from their school grounds to the sacred grounds of Waikumete Cemetery that bear the names of Kelston legends on the shiny black headstone, that once sparked the cheers and celebrations along Archibald Road. 2022 held special meaning after the recent loss of schools first All Black “Inga the Winger” a few months ago as well as the inspiring story of their most recent All Black Sione Lauaki one of many reasons why the young Kelston men will always remember Saturday the 27th of August as the first time back to back 1A titles for some time.
As the curtains close on another 1st XV year, we bid farewell and wish those year 13s who venture to their post school lives and no doubt will see the next crop of 1st XV talent gallop along the sidelines ready to hear the bellowing blast of the referees whistle to signal kick off