Wairarapa College beat Bishop Viard College at the weekend.
The conditions were perfect for free-flowing rugby – hot, dry and firm underfoot.
This was do or die for Pool C in grading, with both teams registering comfortable wins in their first game. Bishop Viard were much touted with a large article in regional media expressing how much potential they have, and that they are the team to watch.
Wairarapa College had some well-set structure and speed of play which allowed the CLM player of the match Levi Harmon to score a brace in the first seven minutes of the game.
Wairarapa then went through a momentary mental slip making a few basic mistakes which allowed Viard to fight back to 12-10.
Wairarapa players must have got a bit of a fright from that and woke up to score two quick tries before halftime to Brad Griffith and Levi Harmon again. This gave Wairarapa a 26-10 lead at halftime.
Wairarapa College then almost let the game slip, error after error starting to sneak into their game.
The first error coming at the restart with a kick out on the full. Bishop Viard didn’t need a second invite to get back into the game. They lifted and owned the second half, dominating the Wairarapa forwards, and starving their backs of quality ball.
They got within a whisker of taking the lead, before Wairarapa managed to dig deep to score a late penalty goal to Josh Pepperell and another try to Brad Griffith.
The score ended at 35-25.
Wairarapa would have breathed a huge sigh of relief with the solo brilliance from fullback Brad Griffith, who was able to grab the last try from deep within their own half, effectively stopping Bishop from stealing the game.
Wairarapa now need to manage a victory over the large regular Premier 1 team St Bernards on Saturday to secure Premier 1 qualifying for the season.
Coach Chris Senior said: “They will need to do some serious work if we can consider ourselves real contenders in Premier 1, we have a lot of young boys especially in the forwards, who got found out today.
“They were exposed to the passion and motivation of what it means to be a Premier 1 school, and obviously the physical nature of the teams in it.”