Tue, Jun 25, 2024 4:27 PM

Nelson College storms into quad final


Jack Malcolm

Nelson College will come into the Quadrangular final against Christ's with a head of steam after dismantling Wellington College.

The 47-0 win on the school's front field was a display in school-boy rugby excellence as Nelson College once again proved they are a side to be reckoned with.

In the other semi-final, Whanganui Collegiate saw their 7-10 lead at the break evaporate into thin air after a scoreless second half saw them lose to Christ's College, 33-10.

Christ's will have their work cut out for them if they want to come out on top in Thursday's final of the 98th Quadrangular Tournament, with Nelson College playing some of their best rugby in recent memory.

Jonathan Solomona scored Whanganui Collegiate's only try of the game as Christ's College booked their finals spot. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport. 

The 9-10 pair of Ollie Gibbons and Harry Inch aren't superstars in the making; they're already there.

Harry's perforamnce was outstanding, leading the team well and generating several try-scoring breakaways with his vision and passing game.

He was a league above, with a superior kicking game that kept Nelson College moving forward.

Ollie was also outstanding, with precision passing that provided the platform for much of his team's offence.

Several times, a perfect pass from Ollie set their attack in motion as Nelson College dominated every arena of the game.

But it wasn't just the duo that shone, with every player on the park for Nelson College putting in a performance that allowed their key players to put their best foot forward.

After Wellington College conceded an early try, with flanker Saumaki Saumaki breaking tackles and racing down the sideline, the visiting side looked to be in the chase as they fought to answer back with a try of their own.

But spirited defence from the Nelson College boys kept them out despite multiple phases getting within a hair of the try line.

Having rebuffed what would be the visiting side's best attacking sequence of the game, Nelson College found themselves on a roll again as prop Samuela Takapu dotted down his first of two first-half tries as the dominance started to become evident.

The structure of Nelson College was almost impeccable, with their ability to turn defence into a dangerous offence at the drop of a hat unmistakable.

Ollie Gibbons' decision-making and accuracy was instrumental in Nelson College's success. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport.

A 26-0 lead at halftime saw Wellington College look to head back to the drawing board.

But everything they tried was met with quick line speed and accurate tackling, which meant they were often on the back foot while attempting to generate an attack.

At no point did Nelson College look flustered, with a clinical performance that will put Christ's on notice ahead of their winner-takes-all game on Thursday at midday.

Christ's will come into the game as underdogs based on the two sides' first-up performances, with the earlier game lacking the structure, pace and intensity that Wellington and Nelson College's brought to the game.

But they are still a dangerous threat, particularly with the kicking game of their halfback Benji Nation.

The box kick is one of Christ's biggest weapons as they often put up contestable balls that were recollected by their strong midfield pair.

They also showed some flaws, with Whanganui exposing some of their weaknesses at set-piece time in the first half.

However, this season's Nelson College side is one of the strongest in years, with no weak links from the number one jersey right through to the number 23.

But fatigue may play a factor with just a day to recover between games.

Harry, who also captains the Nelson College side, says they didn't expect the result to be so one-sided.

"Not at all. Obviously, they're on top of their competition up North, having been undefeated so far.

"But the whole environment, the home field, the big build up and all our fans and families here. We wanted to put on a big performance for them and represent our hometown.

"I'm just really happy with the result and really proud of the effort."

He says it was impossible to single out any one player for their performance, believing the whole team rose to the occasion.

Despite such a convincing result, he was quick to add that the team will not be taking Christ's lightly.

"I'm not sure how it'll go. They're also tracking along well."

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