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Kick decides festival thriller

They fought the good fight. But lost.

Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15 had victory in their sights in Saturday’s First 15 Festival of Rugby Round 2 clash with St. Patrick’s College Silverstream at the Rectory.

The Wellingtonians ended up winning 22-21, courtesy of first-five Tom Mannix kicking a 35-metre penalty goal with three minutes left.

That came after Silverstream captain and second five-eighth Riley Higgins made a 58th-minute try-saving tackle on reserve centre Poumana Gemmell when the home side led 21-19 and were on attack 11 metres from the goal-line.

“The game went to and fro,” said Gisborne head coach Mark Jefferson, whose team went in on the back of a 47-24 win over Wellington College in the first round of the festival involving schools in the Hurricanes catchment.

“We had numerous opportunities. It could have gone either way. Our boys know they can compete at this level. We just have to learn each week, understand that these games have small margins and that you must make the most of the chances you create to close them out.”

Silverstream coach Tim Mannix pointed to the positive play and excitement factor of both teams while Higgins made clear his respect for Boys’ High rugby.

“That was our first-ever win in Gisborne and it means a lot.”

From kick-off, the structure at speed and spatial awareness was evident.

Gisborne retained possession over four phases but it was Silverstream who struck first — hooker Ignatius Sio going over in the seventh minute in a rolling maul from a quality lineout win.

Mannix converted for 7-0.

Gisborne’s most valuable player, left-wing TK Reihana, looked dangerous from the get-go. At one point he beat his marker impressively and first-five Anaru Paenga-Morgan kicked a penalty on the heels of that to close the deficit to 7-3.

The home side went ahead in the 17th minute. Lock Kauri Waitoa was the point of the sword driven 10m by his fellow forwards to score. Paenga-Morgan’s conversion made it 10-7.

Stream responded in the 20th minute with an unconverted try to tighthead prop Mika Felix, the third five-pointer to come from mauling play (12-10).

Loosehead prop Julius Masoe may have set an unofficial record of some type when he scored the visitors’ third try in the 31st minute (17-10). It meant all three of the Silverstream front-row had scored tries in basically the same position on the field.

Mannix converted but Paenga-Morgan responded with a second penalty kick to reduce the Wellingtonians’ lead to 19-13 at the break.

In the 44th minute, 19-year-old referee Oliver Holst played excellent advantage for Gisborne and hooker Amanaki Tonga to score from a drive.

The visitors were now only 19-18 ahead.

Paenga-Morgan didn’t convert but his left foot struck gold in the 53rd minute with a penalty from 18m out and 10m to the left of the posts to put Gisborne 21-19 in front — the third lead change of the contest.

However, in the 67th minute, a scrum infringement was ruled against Gisborne and Mannix made the pressure kick that decided the game.

For Gisborne, openside flanker Amos Roddick was a stand-out. The six-foot-three 16 year-old tackled hard and was superb in the air.

Despite the loss for a side missing key senior forwards, local fans can be confident in the knowledge that this team are improving.

They will look to continue that in Round 3 against Scots College at Pukekura Park, Porirua, this Saturday.

Scots lost 20-19 to Hastings Boys’ High here on Saturday while Napier Boys’ High beat Wellington College 36-26 and Palmerston North Boys’ High defeated St Patrick’s College Town 31-14.

JUST ONE POINT IN IT: Gisborne Boys’ High lock Kauri Waitoa was among the tryscorers in a First 15 Festival of Rugby clash against St Patrick’s College Silverstream at the Rectory field. The visitors won 22-21. Picture by Paul Rickard