• NBHS struggle in Moascar Cup challenge

NBHS struggle in Moascar Cup challenge

Poor defensive work and soft turnovers proved costly for the Napier Boys' High School 1st XV rugby side during yesterday's away Moascar Cup challenge against Rotorua Boys' High School.

The Moascar Cup is the "Ranfurly Shield" of secondary schools rugby and the Sky Blues were beaten 33-17 in the clash which was a fifth round Super 8 fixture.  Napier's Super 8 record is one win, one draw and three losses.

Coach Brendon Ratcliffe said his troops must now focus on retaining the Polson Banner in their away fixture against Palmerston North Boys' High School next month and the Hurricanes Region qualification path for the National Top Four tournament.

"We definitely need to tighten up our defence. We have to be more committed to what we know works for us," Ratcliffe explained.

"We were opened up unusually in the first half and leaked three tries. It was hard to come back from that," Ratcliffe said.

Lock Nic Ennor (pictured above) was outstanding for the Sky Blues with powerful carries and a huge defensive workrate, He is a cousin of All Black and Crusaders outside back Braydon Ennor who hooked him up with a pair of former All Black lock Luke Romano's custom-made size 17 Adidas boots.

Ratcliffe's son and openside flanker Max Ratcliffe impressed with his work at breakdown time. Fellow vice-captain, centre Bethel Malasia, was the best of the NBHS backs.

The visitors finished the match with 24 missed tackles, 16 more than Rotorua.

Napier opened the scoring with a third minute penalty goal to halfback Corey Berkett.

Hooker Taine Kolose scored Rotorua's first try in the 11th minute from a lineout drive. First five-eighth Tome Poona converted.

Three minutes later Poona beat four defenders with a spectacular solo run on the way to the try line. Poona again added the extras.
Winger Bless Perese-Elliott scored late in the half and Poona converted to give Rotorua a 21-3 halftime lead.

When Malasia scored for Napier in the 41st minute and Berkett converted the visitors were back in the hunt. But those faint hopes were dashed when Rotorua captain and openside flanker Brooke Mitchell scored the first of his two tries in the 53rd minute after a spectacular pass from substitute midfielder Kody Betham. Poona again converted to give Rotorua a 28-10 lead.

Substitute prop Tasman Soanai-Oeti scored for Napier in the 61st minute and first five-eighth Lawson Gillies converted.

Another clever pass from Betham sent Mitchell in for his second try in the 63rd minute. Mitchell led the hosts by example and Betham and Poona were lassy backs.     
The NBHS players wore black armbands as a mark of respect to former teacher and long-serving NBHS volleyball coach Alani Samia who died on Saturday morning.

"Alani had a huge influence on a lot our boys and we must pass on our condolences to his family at this sad time," Ratcliffe said  

The Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV maintained their unbeaten run in Super 8 play with an away 14-7 victory against New Plymouth Boys' High School yesterday. National champions in 2017 and 2019, HBHS, will be hard to beat in the battle for National Top Four qualification.  

Rotorua Boys' High School 33 (Brooke Mitchell 2, Taine Kolose, Tome Poona, Bless Perese-Elliott tries; Poona 4 cons), Napier Boys' High School 17 (Bethel Malasia, Tasman Soanai-Oeti tries; Corey Berkett, Lawson Gillies cons; Berkett pen). HT: 21-3.