Waimea Combined player Joe Sharland makes a break against St Thomas in their UC Championship secondary schools rugby game at Waimea on Saturday. Photo: Simon Bloomberg

Waimea secure first win in UC champs

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Waimea Combined coach Glenn Grant is hoping his team has gained some “self-belief” after beating St Thomas’ of Canterbury 40-29 in their UC secondary schools rugby championship game at Waimea on Saturday.

Waimea showed superior speed and skill to outclass a bigger St Thomas team scoring six tries on its way to its first win in the championship. But Waimea also showed it could match the big St Thomas pack in the set pieces and at the breakdown and that, more than anything, laid the foundation for Waimea’s win.

“We were much better at the breakdown this week and that’s where the game is won or lost,” Glenn says. “We were quicker to the breakdown and, once we got there, we showed more intensity and protected our ball really well.

“Our set pieces were good too. We dominated the scrums and lineouts and scored one of our tries off a tighthead.”

Glenn says the loose forwards, Reuben Chubb, Josh Grant and Caleb Delaney, were the key to Waimea’s improvement at the breakdown while lock Joe Sharland helped his team dominate the lineouts. Elusive fullback Mattie Stevenson was the backline’s best attacking weapon, scoring three first half tries as Waimea raced to a 33-12 lead at the break.

Waimea plays Burnside in Christchurch this Saturday and Glenn believes they will be going into the game with more confidence after beating St Thomas. He says they are targeting Burnside as one of the teams they can beat.

“We have a lot of young guys in our team and I think, now that we have a win under our belt, it will really help their self belief. We have the game plan and the fitness to run a few of the teams around and all we need is the confidence to do that.”

Waimea Combined 40 (Mattie Stevenson 3, Reuben Chubb, Jan Lammers, Josh McPherson tries, McPherson 5 conversions)St Thomas 29. Half time: 33-12.