Tauranga Boys’ a step closer to Top Four

Action from Tauranga Boys’ v Rotorua Boys’.

Tauranga Boys’ College First XV have finally had some luck go their way.

After coming so close to beating both Super 8 finalists Hamilton Boys’ and Hastings Boys’ the boys in blue have knocked out Rotorua Boys’ in the race to represent the Chiefs at the Top Four finals.

The game between these great rugby rivals was played on Saturday in Rotorua. It ended in a thrilling 23-23 draw after Tauranga captain Hunter Dickson kicked a last-second penalty to tie the game up.

As Tauranga scored the first try in the match they go through as Bay of Plenty champions and face Taranaki champs New Plymouth Boys’ at Nicholson Field this Saturday at 12pm.

The victor will then take on the winner of Hamilton Boys’ and Wesley College to represent the Chiefs at the Top Four.

Tauranga have never gone past the stage they are at now so heady times indeed for the First XV players, coaches and supporters.

Goalkickers Tome Poona and Dickson swapped penalty goals in the first 10 minutes after a tense and physical opening period last Saturday.

Tauranga then grabbed the initiative when first-five Lucas Cashmore crossed for what became the match-winning try, converted by second-five and captain Dickson for a 10-3 lead.

They held the lead until the 28th minute when flying left winger Te Hemara Gardiner-Toi scored for Rotorua.

The closeness between these two great rivals continued towards the end of the first half. First Dickson scored to put Tauranga up 15-8 but right on the stroke of halftime captain and hooker Bernie Hati replied in kind for Rotorua.

Poona’s conversion saw this epic struggle tied up 15-15 at the break.

Both sides had their chances at the start of the second stanza but it was tighthead prop Kaharoa Takuira-Mita who put Tauranga ahead 20-15 with a try after 50 minutes.

But urged on by their home crowd Rotorua dug in deep to once again tie the match level with 10 minutes to play.

First-five Poona then kicked a penalty goal to put Rotorua ahead 23-20 with just two minutes left to play.

Not to be outdone Tauranga captain Dickson showed nerves of steel to convert a penalty from 30 metres out to put his team through to the next round.

Tauranga manager Darrell Boyd says there is a great culture in the team.

“We are hopeful for this weekend and then hopefully we can go to Hamilton and win there too. The boys are in with a shot.”