Rotorua Boys' High School under-15 rugby player Jayden Savage kicked his team to a narrow 9-8 win over Christchurch Boys' High School in their opening match of the New Zealand National Under-15 Rugby Tournament.
A penalty in the dying seconds of the match by Rotorua first-five Savage gave Rotorua a 9-8 win over Christchurch at Rotorua Boys' High School yesterday.
Playing in miserable wet and windy conditions all of Rotorua's points came from the boot of the young playmaker.
Christchurch had the advantage of a strong northerly in the first half and looked to use it to their full advantage thorough the kicking skills of first-five Teddy Rose.
The youngster kept Rotorua pinned inside their 22m for most of the match. However, Rotorua's defence was staunch, especially around the edges of the ruck. Whenever it looked like the visitors were about the cross the line the home side's forwards would put their bodies on the line to keep Christchurch out and turn the ball over.
If the home side were guilty of one thing, it was not playing to the conditions. Several times Rotorua would break out of their danger zone but instead of kicking low and behind Christchurch's defensive line they would look to spin it wide, only to cough up possession and have the visitors camped back on their goal line again.
The weight of possession soon told on Rotorua and they succumbed to the pressure when lock Nathan Evans broke through the defence to score. The conversion was unsuccessful and both sides went into the break cold, miserable and only a 5-0 buffer to Christchurch.
After the break the conditions got worse with the wind driving the rain sideways. However, it didn't dissuade Rotorua from continuing with their high-risk rugby.
The plan appeared to be to try and get the ball out to Jone Lasaganibau but Christchurch were well aware of his attacking capabilities and came up flat on the the big centre, not giving him any room to work.
Rotorua prop Jesse Williams was a solid workhorse at the breakdown. He was joined by No8 Renton Barrett who grafted in the ruck.
However, despite all their efforts Rotorua could not get the ball across Christchurch's line and had to settle for penalties from Savage. Poor discipline almost cost Rotorua the match, leading 6-5 and time almost up on the clock. The home side were penalised for being offside at the ruck. With the kick directly in front and 10m out, it was a gift, first-five Rose was happy to accept and converted to put Christchurch ahead. It was a quick sprint back to halfway for the Rotorua side who kicked the ball deep into the Christchurch 22. The Rotorua forwards, lead by captain Axle Hohneck, charged through the visitors like a herd of angry rhinos and won turnover ball.
For the first time in the second half Rotorua had good attacking ball inside the visitors' danger zone and they pressed hard. The pressure was too much and Christchurch, too urgent to push up and cut down Rotorua's attacking chances, were penalised for being offside.
With the ball only 5m in front of the posts Savage made easy work of the kick to the joy of his team-mates.
Rotorua's second match against Massey was a one-sided affair with Rotorua taking a 28-0 half-time lead and going on to win 50-0 against the visiting side.
The home side play Auckland Boys' Grammar in their third match today at 2pm.
More than 450 boys from Auckland Boys' Grammar, Wesley College, Mt Albert Grammar, Massey, Palmerston North Boys' High, Hamilton Boys' High, Tauranga Boys' High, Hastings Boys' High, St Patrick Town, Wellington College, Christchurch Boys' High, St Bede's and Rotorua Boys' High are taking part in the week-long tournament.
Rotorua Boys' High School 9 (Jayden Savage 3 pens) Christchurch Boys High School 8 (Nathan Evans try; Teddy Rose 1 pen). Halftime 0-5.