One Tree Hill College vs Botany Downs 1XV RugbyAugust 29, 2017
Botany Downs claimed a historic first-title by leading from almost start-to-finsh to claim the 1B Championship for 2017. One Tree Hill College provided stiff resistance to make it a severe challenge right until the final play, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the challenge on the day.
From the opening whistle both sides looked to play enteprising, running rugby. The two teams utilised the width that Eden Park offered resulting in multiple early half-breaks being made down each flank.
Botany Downs were the first to take an early advantage through quality work at the breakdown, resulting in a turnover on a halfway. Halfback Harry Valk executed a near-perfect kick into the the One Tree Hill 22 metre. The resulting scramble saw Botany Downs force One Tree Hill into grounding the ball behind their own line, and an attacking scrum was awarded to Botany Downs.
Striking directly from the set-piece, Botany Downs utilised quick hands at speed with fullback Quentin Hill fighting through two defenders to plant the ball adjacent to the upright – a successful conversion made it 7-0 inside the opening ten minutes.
From the kick-off, Hill was at it again with a scintillating break up past halfway. Play stabilised itself from there, with both teams looking to press home an advantage. One Tree Hill were able to make half-breaks, but 50/50 balls stifled any continuity.
A strong rolling maul from Botany Downs put them in striking range once again, and a penalty soon after saw them extend their lead.
One Tree Hill started to find greater continuity and field position soon after. Good phase play and quick hands enabled them to exploit space out wise, and left winger Joe Elisara scythed his way through.
Botany weren’t down for long and went back to basics. Strong work up front saw the TMO required to award their second try of the afternoon. Replays proved conclusively that hooker Corne Ludick burrowed over on the stroke of halftime to extend his side’s advantage - 15-7.
The second half started much like the first, but it was One Tree Hill who took early advantage. After threatening on a nuber of occassions to break out they were finally successful in the 44th minute. Lock Tanire Mokoroa galloped away from inside his own 22 metres and was able to unleash Joe Elisara at just the right moment to streak away for his double. The unsuccessful conversion meant the score was only narrowed to 15-12.
Momentum looked to be shifting toward One Tree Hill, however, a high tackle in the 54th minute saw them lose No.8 Samisoni Taufa to the sin bin. The extra man advantage could of been the game changing moment in the match, but Botany saw themselves also lose a player to the bin for repeated infringements. This allowed One Tree Hill to level the scores at 15-all from the resulting penalty
It wasn’t until One Tree Hill were back to their full complement that the score changed again, but for the side that was still a man-down. Another high-tackle penalty saw Botany Downs successfully convert from in-front to regain a lead which they never relinquished.
A final scrum inside their own red zone was all that Botany were forced to complete, before launching the ball over the deadball line into the stands to signal the beginning of the celebrations.
Source - aucklandrugby.co.nz