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Traditional rivals collide

Wanganui Collegiate No 8 Finau Nimatasu scoring his team’s third try. PHOTO/JAKE BELESKI

By Jake Beleski

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A stirring fightback wasn’t quite enough for Rathkeale College to overhaul Wanganui Collegiate in yesterday’s first XV traditional rugby match.

The rivalry is a major fixture on the Rathkeale sporting calendar, and each year the two schools contest rugby, football and hockey matches.

The inaugural first XV match between the two schools was contested in 1977, which Rathkeale won 14-10.

There was to be no repeat of that scoreline this time around, however, as Wanganui used their superior size to eventually wear down the Rathkeale side.

It was a spirited performance from Rathkeale but Wanganui, despite receiving two yellow cards, held on for a 30-17 win.

Tensions were high before the match kicked off with both schools performing passionate renditions of their respective hakas.

A brief stare down followed as both teams refused to give up any ground to their opponents.

Wanganui opened the scoring with a penalty kick, but Rathkeale scored the first try when fullback Mitchell Cockburn regathered his own grubber kick only centimetres from the dead ball line to score in front of the boisterous home crowd.

Wanganui hit back with a try of their own, and kicked two penalties to take an 11-5 lead into the half-time break.

A converted try soon after the restart extended Wanganui’s lead to 13 points, but Rathkeale wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

A yellow card to Wanganui’s blindside flanker was the catalyst for a momentum shift, and Rathkeale scored immediately through winger Jack Beatson.

When bulldozing No 8 Finau Nimatasu crossed for Wanganui’s third try, the score once again threatened to get away from Rathkeale, but another Cockburn grubber was pounced on by Wynter McCook-Weir to close the gap to 23-17.

That was as close as they would get, as Wanganui added another try right on fulltime to give the margin a more lopsided appearance.

The fortunes were reversed in the first XI football and hockey matches, with Rathkeale securing a comfortable 11-1 win in the football, and a 5-1 win in the hockey.

The football match was locked at 1-1 at halftime, but coach Steve Coleman said the injection of senior players in the second half had allowed them to cut loose.

Hockey coach David Caldwell said they were pleased to get the win, but weren’t overly thrilled with the performance.

“It was a very mixed performance,” he said.

“We did some great stuff but also some fairly average stuff as well.”

In other matches, Rathkeale’s second XV and Colts rugby sides suffered 33-0 and 27-24 losses respectively, the junior football team won 19-0, and the junior hockey team lost 7-0.

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