10 Aug 2013
Palmerston North, the NZ Rugby Museum, Marton and match 4 v Rangitekei College

After a pleasant drive up the west coast and a flight from Nelson to Wellington the boys travelled up to Marton yesterday, via Palmerston North, to meet our next set of hosts and play our first game on the north island.

On the way to Marton we stopped briefly in Palmerston North to have lunch and visit the NZ Rugby Museum. This was a good experience for the boys as they heard how rugby arrived in NZ and how the game suited the type of man who lived here. Whether an early white settler or a native Maori, the men of NZ were tough and the game of rugby quickly became a part of their identity, aided by tours to the ‘motherland’ that would last for over a year and include 100+ games they soon had established themselves as the force in world rugby and the Haka and All Black shirt was feared by everyone they faced, even when laying down arms during WWII to play a game against the South African forces watched by 10,000 other servicemen in the North African campaign.

If this day had not already opened the eyes of our boys to the feeling in NZ for rugby the arrival in Marton at Rangitekei College certainly did. As we got off the bus we were greeted by another traditional Maori Powhiri welcome, sung into the hall by two of the female members of the school we were then faced with an explosion of sound as the entire school burst into the school haka, led up front by the Head Boy and 1st XV captain and his team it was an amazing spectacle and one that will live long in the memory of our entire team.

Today we played what has definitely been our most physical game on tour as Rangitekei game at us hard with a lot of very big players who refused to take a backward step. The final score of 55-0 does absolutely no justice to our hosts, as we were only 19-0 up at half time, having scored with the final play of the half, and also scoring twenty one points in the final five minutes of the match. However some of our scores were very well taken, and required a big effort from both senior and junior players to both create and finish.

Fittingly the first score was a fantastic piece of individual brilliance from captain Adam Calderwood, as he stepped his opposite number before beating the full back with a great change of pace to score under the posts. Adam then added to his tally on tour with a second, after a lovely bit of skill from Archie Balkwill kept the ball in field as he was bundled over the touchline, from a well worked backs move to allow the captain to simply gather the ball and dot down in the corner. The final score of the first half was a first for Nick Patten, as he was set up by Andy O’Malley from an impressive lineout move, to allow him to smash his way over under the posts.

The second half continued to be a bit of a war attrition, with both teams going toe to toe and refusing to back down up front. A score from the oppostition early in the half could have changed the game, but some proud defence from our boys kept them at bay and eventually we were able to work into a position to allow Alex Tate to crash over near the posts for a well taken and deserved try. Further scores were added by James Walton from a driving maul and Andy O’Malley from a blindside break (which included him running over their only ‘small’ player in a Lomu style charge) before the final five minutes saw us run in three tries to make the score line a lot more flattering than it should have been. Scores for Josh Parry with a turn of pace down the wing, Harvey Robinson from another maul were both well taken but the final score was possibly one of the tries of the tour. Sam Brooke was tackled on half way on the right hand touch line, and then got up to link up with Kudzai Maboreke on the left hand touchline, after Kudzai had demonstrated a lovely step to create the space to put Sam away and finish the game in style.

The evening was then spent being hosted fantastically at the school with a meal and presentations from both schools. Once again a huge thank you must go to out hosts at the school, in particular the parents who looked after our boys, Richard Kingi who hosted the staff brilliantly at his house and man cave, and finally to Alan Harrison for all his work in hosting us and making our stay such a good one.