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Winners .. Gore High School First XV comes together to celebrate its 35-21 win over Southland Boys' High School Second XV in the under-18 Southland-wide secondary schools competition final on Saturday. PHOTOS: KAYLA HODGE

It was the cherry on top of a remarkable undefeated season for the Gore High School First XV rugby team when it won the top honour at the under-18 Southland-wide secondary schools competition on Saturday.

Gore High beat Southland Boys’ High School Second XV 35-21 in the final – and it was Gore High’s closest game of the season.

Both teams played well throughout the game.

Gore High went into the second half with a narrow 18-14 lead.

It scored right after the half-time break but Southland Boys quickly followed suit with a try.

For the majority of the second half, Gore High led 23-21 but then it put its foot down and scored two quick tries to extend its lead.

Gore High co-coach Craig Pullar said it was only within the last 15 minutes of the game that Gore High was able to pull away.

“I thought that try from Rylee Stewart was probably the key moment. [It] opened it up a little more,” he said.

Pullar was proud of the way his boys composed themselves throughout the game.

“They had the opportunity to lose that game in places. It was a hard match but they hung on and reaped the rewards of sticking together.”

Gore High captain Jakob Harrex made a strong tackle to hold up Southland Boys’ in a maul to finish the game.

Jakob told the crowd of supporters it took a lot for Gore High to successfully get over the line on the day.

“We did it ugly, but we did it in the end. Southland Boys’ scared us with their first try but we came back fighting.”

It was overall fitness and teamwork that enabled Gore High to come away with the win, Pullar said.

“It’s been a great season for those boys to go through undefeated.”

He had been supported well by co-coach Bruce Morton throughout the season.

“Bruce is more of the forwards coach. It’s his first year with the side so it’s a pretty good start to win the thing.”

Gore High School First XV would now face St Peter’s College First XV at the Co-Ed Cup match on Saturday.