1st XV give rivals a nudge

Combined 1st XV’s Marcus Bishop on his way to the tryline.

Despite coming away with a loss, Mid Canterbury Combined Schools’ 1st XV coach Gary McCann is delighted with how his team went toe-to-toe with UC Championship heavyweight Christ’s College on Saturday.

The combined side led Christ’s at half-time 17-12, but were unable to hold on in the second half, eventually slipping to a 39-17 loss.

“The boys were playing extremely well,” he says. “It was a game of two halves really, we were on top for about 45 minutes but then they scored a few tries out wide and one under the posts and it slipped away.”

Still building with a young team, McCann says he's very happy with the performance.

“We are extremely delighted with the boys, and their attitude as well,” she said.

“They’ve really stepped up to the mark, and to put in a performance like that against a heavyweight in the UC championship.

“We’ve taken a lot from the game moving forward in to our next few games as well.”

Backing up a brace of tries last week, No.8 Elama Touli was on the scoresheet once again on Saturday.

“He is an outstanding player.

“He just grows and grows and gets better and better every week, and his confidence grows along with that,” says McCann.

“Both Simon (Fleetwood) and I are pretty excited about what we have got and what is coming in to the fold moving in to the next couple of years.”

Joining Touli in the try-scorers column were first-five Josh Ree, and winger Marcus Bishop, whose try was described by McCann as “beautiful”.

“He scored pretty much from the 22, he beat about six or seven players to go in and score,” he said.

Despite only implementing a new attacking structure on the Tuesday before the match, McCann said the players had really taken it on board.

The team will face two tough games over the next few weeks, first taking on St Andrew’s College followed by St Bede’s College the week after.

However, they are both games that McCann says they have identified as must-win matches.

“Our work-ons for this week will be the defensive pattern and working on the attacking shape, as well as moving the ball quicker off set pieces,” he says.

-Ashburton Guardian.

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