Sun, Dec 26, 2021 10:48 AM

Year in sport: College make history, Richmond breaks drought.

Nelson College celebrates its Miles Toyota Championship win after a hard-fought final against Christ's. Photo: Shuttersport.

Jonty Dine

Another year disrupted by a global pandemic however there was still plenty of sport played in 2021. Sports Reporter Jonty Dine looks back at some of the season highlights.

College’s winning run
A dominant season was capped by a dominant performance as Nelson College cemented its status as the best first XV in the South Island in 2021. Nelson was far too strong for Highlanders schools’ champions Otago Boys High, dispatching the southerners 27-19 in Dunedin to win the South Island Championship in October. A late comeback flattered the scoreboard for Otago, but Nelson proved a class above at Forsyth Barr Stadium. In the Crusader’s School’s final, Nelson picked up a dramatic 22-20 victory over Christ's College. Nelson trailled for 67 minutes of the Miles Toyota Championship final, until a late try to winger Timoci Sauira sealed the win and Nelson's third Crusaders Schools title. It was the second time Nelson had broken the hearts of their rivals, snatching a late victory against Christ’s College in the Quadrangular Tournament. Looking dead and buried at 20-3 at halftime, Nelson staged a stunning comeback to win its third consecutive Quad title. Dylan Irvine’s injury time try sealed the 27-25 victory in thrilling fashion.

2. A rivalry for the ages
Though the season was cut short, Nelson’s top two netball sides once again showed how little separates them following two nail-biting clashes in 2021. The first meeting saw a solitary point as the difference maker after Prices survived a furious late comeback. After trailing the first two quarters, Prices pulled out to a four-goal lead with five minutes remaining only for Jacks to come storming back to 45-44 with thirty seconds to play. However, Prices held its nerve and controlled possession as the clock wound down on yet another classic clash. The ledge was squared following another epic showdown closed out the second phase of the Nelson Premier Netball Competition and once again it was just single goal that separated them. Jacks exacted its revenge with a 42-41 win and ended Prices’ eight-match unbeaten streak in the process.

Prices Waimea Ahurei and Jacks OPD have been the two dominant forces in Nelson netball for several seasons. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shutterpsort.
Prices Waimea Ahurei and Jacks OPD have been the two dominant forces in Nelson netball for several seasons. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shutterpsort.

Bennett breaks his hoodoo
Nelson cyclist George Bennett claimed his first national road race title in February, soloing to victory at the New Zealand championships in Cambridge. The Jumbo-Visma rider ended up winning by nearly two minutes, but it was a hard-earned title as he attacked repeatedly before finally breaking free with 8km to go. George previously finished runner-up behind Hayden Roulston in 2013 and behind Shane Archbold last year, and he also tasted silver in the time trial on Friday.

Richmond shock Rangers
Richmond won the 2021 Nelson division one football championship after edging past Rangers AFC 1-0 at the Renwick Domain in October. Defending champions Rangers had set the pace all season and went into the final round-robin match, which was delayed a month due to COVID, tied on points with Richmond, but with a better goal differential. That meant a win or draw would have handed the home side back-to-back titles and for much of the match it appeared a stalemate was the likely result. The deciding goal came around the 75th minute mark and had an element of luck about it. Rangers lost the ball in midfield where it was picked up by substitute Lee Merrion. His low shot struck the home side’s post, ricocheted into the body of Rangers’ player/coach Tore Waechter then bounced into the empty net.

Richmond players celebrate after pipping Rangers AFC for the Nelson division one title in Renwick. Photo Gavin Hadfield/Shuttersport.
Richmond players celebrate after pipping Rangers AFC for the Nelson division one title in Renwick. Photo Gavin Hadfield/Shuttersport.