[By Peter Jones - Marlborough Weekly / Marlborough App]
The Marlborough Boys’ College First XV didn’t start their University of Canterbury championship season with the result they sought, but showed plenty of promise in a tight match with St Thomas of Canterbury College at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.
MBC went down 22-12 to a physical opponent, who finished stronger and won most of the key moments late in the match.
The teams were locked at 7-7 at halftime, a fair indication of a tense, tit-for-tat first 35 minutes.
Lineout issues continued to plague the home side, helping St Thomas score first in the second spell but, as they did in the first half, MBC immediately replied with a try of their own to level at 12-12.
However, from then on the visitors took control, their bench adding value at a crucial stage while MBC’s discipline and accuracy was found wanting.
A penalty after 20 minutes, followed by a long-range try after the ball was stolen in a tackle sealed the deal for the visitors, although the youthful MBC side can take heart from their efforts against a side possessing plenty of size and firepower.
MBC head coach Matt Macdougall said, despite the early setback, “it wasn’t all doom and gloom”.
“Some of our young guys got a taste of First XV footy and they learnt that a couple of key moments can cost you a game which probabaly summed up the game for me.
“I thought we had opportunities to close the game out but we had a couple of brain fades around set piece and made some silly errors around the offside line.
“On the positive side, we had a very young backline out there who I thought may have struggled defensively at set piece time, but they did really well there and in phase play.
“They will learn from it all, they are a great bunch of boys and were pretty gutted after the game. Don’t forget that St Thomas were a handy side too.”
He singled out skipper Monu Moli for his “huge work rate”, plus flanker William McKenzie “who wouldn’t stop tackling”.
Youngster Cooper Roberts made a good start to his First XV career, defending well in a tough position.
“I’m proud of them all really,” the coach added. “The stuff we didn’t nail this week we will fix.”
Next week MBC travel south to play St Andrew’s College, who beat St Bede’s on opening weekend, in Christchurch.
Scores: St Thomas of Canterbury 22 (Nick Price, AJ Abdelaal, Montel Peppard tries, Harry Coleman pen, 2 con) MBC (Monu Moli, Toby McLeod tries, Kyren Taumoefolau con). HT 7-7.