Rathkeale College first five-eighth Jack Eschenbach taking on the defence of Lindisfarne College. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Rathkeale College’s Jack Eschenbach celebrated a special milestone in fitting fashion in Tuesday’s school exchange with Lindisfarne College at Rathkeale.

Playing in his 50th match for the First XV, the first five-eighth guided his team to a comfortable 33-15 win over their rivals in a match that doubled as a Central North Island Championship clash.

Eschenbach was a standout performer in a strong team performance from Rathkeale, scoring a try and using his running game to good effect.

The first half was tight as both teams battled for ascendancy, and there was no early indication of what was going to unfold later in the match.

Rathkeale spent a long period on attack in the early stages, but Lindisfarne only needed one opportunity to strike against the run of play and take a 5-0 lead.

The visitors looked comfortable until their blindside flanker was yellow-carded just before halftime, and Rathkeale pounced with a converted try just before the break.

In the second half Rathkeale went up a gear as Eschenbach scored their second try from an impressive solo run down the touchline, and they added a third just after to open up a 21-5 lead.

They extended that lead by another five shortly after, and it was only in the last 10 minutes that Lindisfarne managed to bring some respectability to the scoreline.

The match was also significant for No 8 Harry McKay, who earned his cap after playing his 30th match for the team.

For Lindisfarne, it was the last match of their campaign and means they will finish in eighth position.

Rathkeale were already out of contention for the semifinals before the match, but they still have one match left to play in the Central North Island competition.

They will travel to Francis Douglas Memorial College on Saturday, looking to finish their season on a high.

The match will be crucial for Francis Douglas Memorial College as they sit two points outside the top four.

They will still be relying on other results going their way to make the top four, but can give themselves a decent chance if they beat Rathkeale.

In other matches at Tuesday’s exchange, Rathkeale also took out the colts hockey [2-1], while Lindisfarne won the Second XV rugby [63-7], colts rugby [28-12], First XI football [1-0], Junior A football [2-0], and First XI hockey [4-0].