The Barbarians 1st XV, comprising players from Ōtumoetai and Bethlehem, have topped off an unbeaten 2021 season by winning the Division 2 Baywide final 18–0 against Mount Maunganui College.
Played at Rugby Park in Whakatāne, the match was held in excellent conditions – a warm sunny day, a light breeze and the ground firm underfoot.
The Barbarians made a fine start and controlled territory and possession.
With the forwards working as a pack, lock Eli McPherson was driven over the tryline after 10 minutes. The game remained 5-0 for a long period and just on halftime, Barbarians captain and first five Ben Mead knocked over a dropped goal from 25m out, giving his side an 8-0 lead at the break.
The second half saw the Barbarians continue their territorial dominance, and some smart kicking in general play by Maui Hunt, Te Ariki Taumata and Mead kept the Mount in their own half for large stretches of time.
Loose forward Valance Smith drove over from a pick-an- go for another forward try, and late in the second half fullback Taumata attacked the blindside to take the score to 18-0.
The Barbarians’ dominance was on the back of an outstanding defensive effort, a big territorial advantage, a massive game from the whole pack, and some smart game management by the axis of No 8 Nico Brown and inside backs Hunt and Mead.
The final victory capped off an unbeaten year for the Barbarians, who played 12 and won 12, scoring 433 points including 69 tries, and only conceding 85.
Coach Richard Brown commended the players.
“We started in term one with our first ever rugby academy, and on the back of that success we built well into the season and as we developed our game plan the players continued to improve each week.
“Our finals effort was our best performance of the year – we followed the plan for the whole match, defended well across the field and the players really dug deep to send our four Year 13s off in style.
“To beat a well drilled Mount team and hold them scoreless was a fantastic effort by the players and our school communities are very proud of the team”.