A dominant Sacred Heart side stormed ahead to a 40 – 13 victory over Kelston at Eden Park tonight, acting as the KFC Curtain Raiser for Blues v Crusaders.
The opening half was an evenly matched affair. Both Kelston and Sacred Heart got underway with a try-a-piece in the opening 15 minutes.
Sacred Heart’s kicking game was impressive, scoring three penalty goals and three try conversions over the full 70 minutes.
While Kelston was able to keep pace in the opening 35 minutes, they were soon pushed backwards by a driving attacking game from Sacred Heart after the break.
Within minutes of returning to the field, Sacred Heart number eight Hoskins Sotutu, son of former Blues player Waisake Sotutu, was able to cross the try line following on from a Kelston knock-on and quick turnaround of possession.
It was this moment that Kelston head coach Che Muller cites as a key turning point for his team.
“It was anybody’s game at half-time and we said that we know we have to start well in the second half,” recalled Muller. “We couldn’t have started any worse, knocking the ball on, giving them the ball, which turned in to a try and then we got sin binned.”
Sacred Heart head coach Gus Leger noted that his side was able to return with a tighter defence, following a disappointing defensive game in the opening half. The players then turned the game on its head and held the ball for almost the entire final 35 minutes.
“With the profile of our players, we work hard on our conditioning and we use that as an opportunity to find space through there,” said Leger. “That kills any lateral movement. Overall it was more of a team performance.”
Even with the result for Kelston, Muller said the opportunity to play at Eden Park was special for the team.
“You can’t beat around the bush, we played at one of the greatest stadiums in the world. It’s pretty cool for the boys.”