Sat, Sep 25, 2021 4:06 PM
Halfback Wil Thornalley was all class at halfback for Nelson College. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport ( File)
A dominant season was capped by a dominant performance today as Nelson College cemented its status as the best first XV in the South Island.
Nelson was far too strong for Highlanders schools champions Otago Boys High, dispatching the southerners 27-19 in Dunedin this afternoon.
A late comeback flattered the scoreboard for Otago, but Nelson proved a class above at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Wil Thornalley was outstanding at halfback, producing some scintillating runs while controlling his pack with maturity well beyond his years.
It was a fitting swansong for skipper Ollie Inch who has enjoyed a storied career during his three years in the 1st XV.
Ollie says his second South Island title was more satisfying than the first, being at the helm of the championship side.
It took less than two minutes for Nelson to get on the board, Ben Lefale exploding through a hole as Hunter Leppien put it on a platter for his prop.
Cooper Grant stretched the lead to ten on the back of a superb break by Wil Thornalley as Nelson were all over their opponents early on.
Tuterangi Stone-Williams shown a yellow card for collapsing a surging maul, but Nelson continued to keep Otago out, Grant slotting his second penalty to give his side a 13-0 halftime advantage.
Otago could still not crack the Nelson defence, despite two near 40 metre rolling mauls ending within inches of the line.
Finally, after 41 minutes, the hosts got over the chalk through Alex McLaughlan but Nelson struck back immediately as Nic Sauira capped a clinical movement.
The inevitable Netani Baleisomosomo try came shortly after as Nelson began to cut ribbons in the Otago defence.
Otago refused to lie down however, Finn Hurley pulling one back for the hosts as he opted for a quick tap and showed some fleet footwork to reduce the margin to 13.
Hurley looked to spark an unlikely comeback as the first five again scythed through a hole and set up winger Aaron Morrison to out-sprint the cover defence and bring them right back into the contest.
The hosts continued to hammer away and Joseph Domoni was given a second yellow for Nelson but a tight-head would prove the final nail in Otago's coffin.
Nelson 27 (Lefale, Sauira, Baleisomosomo, tries, Grant 3 cons, 2 pens)
Otago 19 (McLaughlan, Hurley, Morrison tries, Hurley 2 cons)