Prop Ponini and winger Motu have had fantastic seasons for their Canterbury, New Zealand school, Rangiora, and also represented North Canterbury earlier in the season that won the McGiffert Trophy against Ellesmore 45-7.
Unfortunately, both boys’ school season ended earlier than expected as Rangiora High School suffered a heart-breaking semi-final defeat to rivals St Thomas of Canterbury College, losing 28-21.
Leading by one point with mere minutes left, RHS did all they could to maintain their lead, until finally conceding the back breaking try in the 78th minute.
It was a typically physical match. STCC were the most imposing side in the competition physically, playing a very direct and confrontational game plan whereas RHS relied on its structure, ball play, fitness, and accuracy.
Both sides were very aware a win would mean a home semi after eighth-placed Waimea beat fifth placed St Andrews earlier in the day – and for well over 70 minutes both sides showed their desire - leaving everything on the park.
After an early penalty from their opponents RHS played some outstanding rugby, stretching their opponents across the park and making good metres, building some real pressure which resulted in a try to Michael Calvert and a 5-3 lead.
However, this was quickly negated when from the kick off as RHS failed to clear their end and soon gave up a try and the lead, trailing 8-5.
The scores were soon levelled with a penalty from Caleb Beck, before STCC scored with a converted try from a tap penalty close to the line, with 15 minutes to play in the half they led 15-8.
RHS rebounded strongly in the second half as Ponini crossed the line in a typical barnstorming fashion from a lineout move.
In the end, however, it was not to be.
- RHS/ Conor Leathley