MARIST Brothers High School was crowned the winner of the Southern Zone Secondary Schools rugby competition despite an even 16-all score with John Wesley College in the under-18 final yesterday, a fitting farewell for its late coach Eroni Vereivalu.
The zone rules stated that the team that scored the most number of tries after the sudden death period will be awarded the win and thus favoured the boys from Flagstaff.
MBHS scored a try in each half to outside centre Manasa Mataele and tighthead prop Kamatea Tekena while number eight Joeli Naisilisili scored the only try for JWC.
The MBHS camp dedicated the win to Vereivalu and revealed the passing away of their coach was the huge motivation.
"This win is for our late coach," team manager Koroi Matadigo said.
"We drew our motivation and inspiration from his passing away and I believe he is smiling from heaven after this win."
MBHS drew first blood when outside centre Mataele, who also scooped the man of the match award sliced through the JWC defenders to score.
Minutes later, Nasilisili replied and fly half Sairusi Bakata booted the conversion for 7-5 lead. Mataele and Bakata traded penalties as JWC held on to a 10-8 lead at the break.
MBHS touched down its second try to Tekena and their replacement scrumhalf added another three-pointer for a 16-13 lead.
Bakata missed three opportunities to level score but was successful with a field goal, to even the scores 16-all at fulltime.
Both were determined to score a point during sudden death when they were given five minutes each way.
Matadigo said JWC was a tough team.
"We came into the match wanting to prove ourselves but you know we respect John Wesley, they are the top team in the zone and we're happy to come out with the win."
JWC coach Joe Waqabaca said his troops played a massive game.