Nelson College crowned UC champions
Nelson celebrates its UC Championship win. Photo: Barry Whitnall/ Shuttersport
Nelson College’s superb season isn’t over yet after winning the UC Championship in a pulsating final against Christchurch Boys High School.
Nelson trailed by eight inside the first minute of the second half, but a dominant twenty-minute period for the hosts clinched its first title in 13 years.
Skipper Anton Segner scored two crucial second half tries to seal the 35-31 victory and will now lead his side into the South Island final against Otago Boys.
“We were not just playing for the school, but the whole city of Nelson,” Segner says.
He says his side showed incredible resilience to stage a comeback on the high pressure stage.
Nelson was stunned inside the first two minutes as prop Benjamin Lopas powered over to silence the home crowd.
The visitors looked dangerous early on until a forward pass afforded Nelson its first attacking possession.
Christchurch conceded a penalty from the ensuing attack which Nico Barton sent sailing through the uprights to put the hosts on the board.
Nelson were falling off early tackles and Christchurch cashed in as Fullback Benjamin Hassall finished off a sharp set piece move.
The top qualifiers looked flustered making a number of mistakes and giving away needless penalties to the well-structured Christchurch side.
Two pilfers in quick succession from skipper Anton Segner saw Nelson finally begin to string some phases together leading to a second penalty for Barton.
The side produced a scintillating back line move from kick off, Ollie Inch brought down meters from the line but Nelson recycled quickly as Taya Brown put Connor Johnston in the corner.
Nelson made a change to the front row, Jack Macdonald-Hill making way for Hunter Griffith as a clean break by Daniel Rogers put Nelson hot on attack in the dying moments of the half.
However they were unable to convert the chance as they went to the sheds trailing by one.
It was a disastrous start to the second for Nelson.
Just as they did in the first, Christchurch struck first, Keegan McGregor picking off an intercept to score under the bar.
Nelson didn’t take long to reply, after a quiet first half, Ben Faingaanuku injected himself and send Rogers away for his sides second.
Barton nailed a difficult conversion to bring Nelson back within one.
Nelson looked full of confidence with Rogers making another breath taking run, only denied by a stray hand knocking the ball loose as he eyed the line.
However, Barton would put Nelson in front for the first time with his third penalty.
Rogers finally succumbed to his leg injury but Nelson rolled on, Segner finding himself in space and strolling over.
Barton added the extras to put Nelson nine ahead with 15 to play.
Segner turned down an easy shot at goal and opted for a midfield scrum and it was the skipper who fittingly put the result beyond doubt with his second.
Christchurch offered its fans a late glimmer of hope with two late consolation tries to Fabian Holland and replacement Josh Taula crashed over the chalk, but it was Nelson’s day with the supporter’s club erupting upon the final whistle.
Segner says it was a proud moment in his final game at home.
Nelson will travel south next week in a bid for a spot in the coveted top four championship.
Nelson College 35 (Daniel Rogers, Anton Segner 2, Connor Johnston tries, Niko Barton 3 pens, 3 cons) defeated Christchurch BHS: 31 (Benjamin Lopas, Benjamin Hassall, McGregor, Fabian Holland, Josh Taula tries, Lewis 3 cons)