Howick and Pakuranga Times
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36 — Howick and Botany Times, Wednesday, August 28, 2013 www.times.co.nz FOLLOW US ON 124429 120259-v3 IVAN AGNEW: Debutants Tom Taylor and Steven Luatua, along with relative newcomers Ben and Aaron Smith, Charlie Piutau and Brodie Retallick, are providing the All Blacks selectors with plenty of depth in key positions for test rugby. ➤ Page 35 By Daniel Silverton SAINT Kentigern College first-five William Raea is the toast of the school after kicking a long-range penalty goal with time up on the clock to give his side a third consecutive 1A grade rugby title. Trailing Auckland Grammar 10-11 in the grand final at Eden Park last Saturday, St Kents were awarded a penalty on the 40-metre line, 10m in from touch. The referee informed St Kents’ captain Blake Gibson the penalty would be the final play of the match, leaving the shot at goal or a tap to attempt to score a try. St Kents had been camped on Grammar’s line for the bulk of the preceding 10 minutes, only to be repelled just short of scoring or com- mitting errors. Coach Tai Lavea was in communi- cation with his manager and trainer on the field, “but there was no mes- sage I could give”, he told the Times. “I just let the kid kick the goal.” Grammar supporters had been by far the more vocal throughout the final, and were in full voice as Raea lined up the shot. The kick was right on the limit of his range, and made even more diffi- cult facing a slight breeze. Both sets of fans thought their team had won when the youngster struck the most important kick of his career, as the ball floated towards the posts. There was a hush while the touch judges looked at each other before raising the flags, sending St Kents into raptures and despairing Gram- mar fans piling out the gates. “That kick expressed William’s per- sonality,” says Lavea. “I’ve coached him for three years and there hasn’t been one time where I’ve felt he’s let the situation get to him. “He backs himself and his abilities. I was so pleased for him.” Despite representing New Zealand at touch rugby in his age group, Raea has a more conservative playing style than other exponents of that sport, such as league converts Benji Mar- shall or Shaun Johnson. With strike weapons TJ Faiane and Jonathan Faauli in the midfield and Suliasi Vunivalu on the wing, Raea plays his distributor role with aplomb. “He has good feet and a good pass,” says Lavea. “He doesn’t have the big- gest kicking game going around and he gets targeted in defence because he’s small. “But he’s our first-five and does the job for us.” Prior to the nail-biting finish, St Kents were in front 10-3 at halft- ime, but should have led by more having dominated possession and territory. “We knew we had to start well in the final,” says Lavea. “There must have been four or five occasions we were inside their five- metre line but couldn’t score. “Going into halftime I could see that was playing on our mind. We’d fired all these shots, but had very lit- tle to show for it.” Grammar’s defensive effort upped their belief for the second half and they took the lead with 15 minutes to go. “I was confident if we kept the ball in hand we could steal it at the death,” says Lavea. But staunch tackling by Grammar kept St Kents contained, leaving it up to Raea. “That last 10 minutes was a roller- coaster,” says Lavea. “There was every emotion the human body could take. “It was awesome to be a part of. It summed up the boys’ resilience and character. “I’ve been a part of both previous titles and by far this is the most spe- cial, with the way we’ve done it. It’s very humbling.” The victory was St Kents’ 50th match unbeaten, and puts Raea, Faiane, openside flanker Cody Wheeler and prop Sesimani Tupou into an extremely elite group of three-time 1A grade cham- pions. “It’s hard to put into words how special that is,” says Lavea. “It’s hard enough one of these things. To do it three times back-to-back is a surreal feeling.” St Kents now face the winner of Westlake and WhangareiBoys’ High Schools in the Blues region final to qualify to defend its national top-four title. The 3.35pm final this Saturday is the curtainraiser to the ITM Cup game between North Harbour and Northland at North Harbour Sta- dium. Saint Kentigern College First XV 1A grade champions 2013: Sesimani Tupou, Matt Morrison, Jethro Felemi, Sam Taiseni, Dalton Papali’i, Dillon Wihongi, Cody Wheeler, Blake Gibson, Sam Nock, William Raea, Suliasi Vunivalu, TJ Faiane, Jonathan Faauli, Harry Marks, Patrick Herbert, Jerry Samania, William Phipps, Paripari Parkinson, Blake Knight, Finlay Christie, Joe Mitai, Wesley Tamenifuna, Blake Van Der Mass, Braydon Ennor, Emmanuel Lamositele. Coach: Tai Lavea. Manager: Jerry Leaupepe. Trainer: Scott McLaren. Kick of a lifetime seals 1A title First-five William Raea kicked the winning penalty goal in the final play of the match to give St Kents a 13-11 victory and its third straight 1A title. Photos supplied / Lynne Scutt Saint Kentigern College First XV captain Blake Gibson hoists the Auckland secondary schools 1A grade trophy.
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