SOHS U14 wins nail-biting final

Champion effort . . . The victorious under›14 South Otago High School team raises the divisional trophy aloft after beating Waitaki Boys in Balclutha on Saturday. PHOTO: SI LEEDS/SUPPLIED
Forward focus . . . South Otago High School under›14 player Elliott Hunter (14) looks determined with
ball in hand during his team’s match against Waitaki Boys in Balclutha on Saturday. PHOTO: SI LEEDS/SUPPLIED

Otago Secondary Schools Rugby Competition


U14 cup final SOHS v WBHS

The South Otago High School under›14 team had earned a home final by finishing the round robin in top spot and beating a solid Otago Boys’ Stripes team 74›34 in its semifinal last week.

This meant it would face off against a strong Waitaki team in the final on home turf.

It was great to see plenty of sideline support for SOHS from teachers, friends and family who had turned out on a warm winter’s day to watch two finals.

South Otago started with a hiss and a roar and quickly got into its work.

A slick backline move was finished off by winger Kade Thompson who crossed for the first try in the third minute of play for a 5›0 lead.

South Otago was in again in the fifth minute when centre Max McHaffie scored from long range and the conversion by first five Callum Leeds took the score to 12›0.

Strong running by prop Hakopa Saimoni and great linking through the backline enabled winger Archie Valli to score and the conversion took the lead out to 19›0 after 11 minutes of play.

South Otago continued to dominate territory and Valli scored again in the 24th minute to stretch the score to 24›0.

Waitaki finished the half strongly and scored just before the break to make it 24›5 at halftime.

South Otago brought on reserves during the break to provide some fresh legs and Waitaki also brought on some big›impact players.

Waitaki hit back straight after the break and a try within two minutes brought the score back to 24›10.

McHaffie crossed for another South Otago try in the sixth minute of the half and it was converted by Leeds to make it 31›10. Waitaki then scored a few minutes later, bringing the score to 31›15.

The match see›sawed and Leeds scored with 20 minutes to play, giving South Otago a comfortable lead at 36›15.

However, Waitaki had other ideas and with South Otago tiring, it piled on three tries in 12 minutes to set up a tense finish. Try›saving tackles across the park saved several Waitaki scoring opportunities.

South Otago got into good field position but couldn’t nail the killer blow. With two minutes left on the clock, Waitaki looked to have secured a potentially match› winning try down the right side.

However, in an attempt to bring it closer to the posts to make the conversion easier the ball unfortunately crossed the dead ball line.

This meant South Otago had a line drop›out to give Waitaki one last shot, but South Otago held on for a nail›biting 36›30 win.

It was definitely a game of two halves and fitting of a cup final.

Player of the day points were awarded to Callum Leeds, Archie Valli and hooker Noah Saro. Centre Max McHaffie, flanker Blake Hyslop, fullback Josh Shore and Hakopa Saimoni also had strong games on attack and defence.

The South Otago U14 team finished as the top U14 team in Otago with an impressive record of 10 wins and one loss from the 2022 season.

Powerhouse . .. South Otago High School under›15 forward Elshaddai Pouniu (14) monsters the Taieri defence during the teams’ division final in Balclutha on Saturday. PHOTO: SI LEEDS/SUPPLIED

U15 plate final SOHS v Taieri College

SOHS turned on the weather and a big crowd arrived to watch some great rugby.

Jack Soper started the scoring for SOHS with a good try from a rolling maul, which was converted by Luka May.

The forwards took the ball up well, making some good breaks, Geordie Bennett was rewarded for his efforts with a second try for SOHS.

Taieri fought back and got points on the board.

SOHS snuck in another try before the halftime break making the score 17›7.

Taieri scored first in the second half and SOHS had to work really hard to maintain the lead. Taieri never gave up and its backs looked dangerous every time they had ball, but the SOHS goal line defence was excellent and it held on to win 31›17.

Blasting through . . . South Otago High School under›15 player Geordie Bennett (15) prepares for a hard hit from his opponent
during his team’s division final against Taieri under›15 on Saturday. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN