13 Aug 2013
Match 5 v John Paul College, Rotorua

Today boys played their final game in NZ v John Paul College, Rotorua. After a morning spent going up in the Rotorua Skyline gondola and some highly competitive trips down the Luge track the boys were well rested and ready to end this leg of the tour undefeated, even if the staff were nursing both bruises and egos (Thomson still maintains Dunman illegally ran him off at the first bend, and video footage does show this to be accurate despite Dunman still claiming he had the racing line!).

The game provided the last appearance for some of the players on tour, as we were unsure whether they will be able to play on the Cook Islands, as they may be too young. This meant that we started with a fairly young team, but with a scattering of experience to help boost those around them the younger boys played brilliantly, claiming all of the tries save one. The account was opened early as a period of pressure created space for Hamish Hamilton to identify and put away Sam Brooke after some lovely hands from Andy O'Malley. Hamish added the conversion, and would go on to add another five two point extras during the game. He also created the second try, collecting his own kick over the rushing defence to off load to inside centre Jack Pearson for his first try on tour. Brooke then scored his second of the game, following a well worked backs move and some great hands from Pearson and Archie Balkwill, to give Eltham a 19-0 lead at half time for the second game running.

The second half saw us run in six more tries but also concede the final score of the game, as the home team refused to lie down and fought all the way to the end. Our first score of the half, and two others later, came after a period of pressure in our half was turned into a lovely counter-attack move. The first went to Hamilton, as he scored what will probably be the best individual try of the tour, running at the defence from his own 22m and slicing through before showing some remarkable footwork to beat the covering winger and full-back at the same time in the narrowest of channels and race over from halfway. This was added to by a well taken try from flanker Piers Shimwell, finishing off some exquisite handling from the forwards to score his sixth try on tour and pull ahead of Sam Brooke on five.

Our next try was another excellent counter-attack, this time from full-back, Josh Parry, who showed some pretty special footwork of his own to cut inside the covering defence having rounded the winger after a poor kick from the opposition. The next two scores both went to Brooke, as he added his sixth and seventh on tour and third and fourth of the game, the last seeing him finish off a beautifully executed backs move while Shimwell watched on helplessly from the sideline as his top try scorer tag was ripped away from him with absolutely no mercy. Rumours have it that Sam may have even lightly goaded Piers as he trotted back, telling his defeated comrade to 'keep up Piers', much to the delight of the rest of the crowd and Eltham players (poor Piers was left to shake his head and accept his runners up spot).

Our final score went to Kudzai Maboreke, gathering his own clever chip ahead to dot down in the corner and seal a very good performance that deserved a try. The last word went to the home side though, as they scored a try that will be debated for a long time, but was a fitting consolation for all their efforts during the match. The final score of 64-7 was once again not a true reflection of the match, but it did show just how clinical we were during the game, taking almost every chance we had and finishing brilliantly at times. It was a great way to end the NZ leg of the tour and to do so undefeated in five games is no mean feat, irrelevant of the opposition faced. The boys can be very proud of all they have achieved so far on this tour and head to the Cook Islands in a great position to play Tereora College, the biggest school on the capital island of Rarotonga.

Again a huge thank you must go to our hosts, in particular Rob McCann, for all that they did for us during our stay and we hope to catch up with Rob when he visits England next year.

Waikato Stadium and Auckland