The Mt Aspiring College First XV kept the home crowd cheering right to the final whistle in a tough match against Southland Boys High (SBH) in Wanaka on Saturday. While it was a convincing win by Southland Boys, the 50-12 score line reflected the hard work and conviction shown by the Wanaka team, with two well-deserved tries the reward for their efforts.
A top four finisher in last year’s National First XV Championship, SBH were always going to put up a strong challenge, and with 33 answered points already on the board as the first half ticked to a close, it was looking to become a one-sided game. However, a break by centre Jack East, and a try to MAC right before the half time whistle was exactly what was needed to keep the home side’s heads and hearts in the game.
“Southland Boys showed their slickness in the first half with some well-executed tries and our boys were a bit overawed to start, playing Southland Boys, knowing their reputation, it took them a while to work into the game,” said coach Carl Schmack.
“After Wednesday’s game (against Wakatipu High School) there was a lot of fatigue. We had a few starters missing—Fergus Read, Ashton Towers, Callum Smith—so we had to make a few last-minute changes and it took awhile for them to get into the game, so it was a matter of working through that,” Schmack continued.
“The try just before half time made a difference, it showed the boys that we can take on these big teams. They really took that into the second half.”
The second half brought a whole different pace, with the MAC team stepping up to the challenge. Jack East was a standout both on defence and attack with number 10 Milan Martinovich and fullback Matthew Wilson also showing solid execution on defence and halfback Ethan Kerr keeping the game moving with quick and accurate ball clearing out of the ruck.
The 33-5 halftime score remained unchanged for the first 20 minutes of the second half before SBH were able to make a breakthrough and score a further three tries. MAC answered with a try to lock Ollie Holloway just before full time, converted by Ryan Jones for a final score of 50-12.
MAC are scheduled to play Waitaki Boys High School on Oamaru next Saturday May 18, at 12pm.