Nelson College in purist of their first quadrangular title since 2001 made an excellent beginning in the final against Wellington College. Nelson preserved the ball for many phases and won a penalty which Mitchell Drummond narrowly missed. Wellington looked to play at speed right away but an attempted cut-out pass by Andrew Wells was intercepted by Kere Barrett and the winger, despite the desperate chase of three Wellington defenders, sprinted 60 meters to score, Drummond converted, 7-0. Connor McKinnon Stevenson is renowned for his brutish running. The Nelson prop standing at centre would have had Bull Alien frothing with excitement when he made a 25 charge, producing two right hand fends and taking the ball from halfway towards the Wellington 22.
Stevenson’s breakout was one of many for Nelson. Barrett was a constant threat with his pace and anticipation while fellow winger Latham Jones was active to. Nelson’s speed combined with the sound judgment of Drummond and first- five Mitchell Hunt had the Wellington defence in retreat for most of the first half. However two missed penalties by Drummond and some errant handling prevented a larger lead from being established. Wellington on the other hand kicked a penalty to Andrew Wells, with a rare venture inside Nelson territory, 7-3 and finished the first half stronger with a lineout drive that was just thwarted, 7-3 at halftime.
Nelson started the second half camped inside Wellington territory. Steven Soper who’s been one the “blues” best this year was prominent with his support play and offloading skills. But once again points eluded Nelson who turned down two kickable chances. The inability to translate pressure into points would prove costly. Wellington playing a more forward- orientated game, relying on constant carries by number 8 Luke Tau’alupe and prop Eti Sului, in the main, gained the ascendency in territory, scrums and lineout’s. Sului, for mine the man of the match, with his solid scrimmaging and strong tacking, was rewarded for his industry, scoring the try which gave Wellington the lead, 8-7, Wells converted 10-7.
Andrew Quinlivan is a player I have seen a lot of this year and praised frequently. A game breaker with vision, power, speed and flair it’s a tragedy he is not on the shortlist for the New Zealand Schools side. His 70 meter try on day one was good. His effort today will be remembered by all those who witnessed it! Catching a kick on the full near the left wing touchline, 65 meters out, Quinlivan ventured across field with noting apparently on. Game in the balance, Quinlivan was able to pinpoint some out of position tacklers and keep on going and going. Taking the ball from one touchline to the other, Quinlivan scored an EPIC which was the difference.
At 15-7, Drummond finally landed a penalty to make it 15-10 and Barrett made another breakout which caused tension for the large crowd of “black and yellow” supporters. But by and large the last five minutes were controlled by the Wellington forwards and more graft from Tau’lapue and composure by halfback Carine Green positioned Andrew Wells for a drop goal which put the final nail in the Nelson coffin, final score 18-10. Wellington wins the “quad” for a 9th year in a row and for a 30th time overall.
Next year’s quad is at Christ’s College. With the vast majority of the Wellington forwards returning and only three leavers in the quick Nelson side it’s hard to see these schools breaking their stranglehold on the quad final in 2012.