Auckland Grammar School will seek their 11th National football title, but first since 2007, after winning through to the Lotto Premiership NZSS Football final against reigning champions Sacred Heart College in Napier this afternoon.
Grammar showed little mercy in suppressing King’s High School, Dunedin, 2-0.
The southerners had been on a giant killing run, eliminating Auckland Premier League champions Saint Kentigern College 2-1 in the Round of 16 and perennial powerhouse Mount Albert Grammar School 2-0 in the quarter finals.
However Grammar, who thrashed Nelson College 4-0 in their quarter-final, were prepared for King’s threats.
Thomas Drillen opened the scoring midway through the first-half when a corner rebounded out of the box and Drillen collected the spillage, beat his opposite defender and slipped the ball past the keeper.
Jan Ackerman and Beckham Greenall have been exceptional for King’s all week. Both tried gallantly, but forlornly, to breakdown Grammar’s watertight defence.
The second and telling goal was scored by Micaiah Papa. From a set-piece the ball emerged on the left side and Papa used his pace to leave the keeper in a hopeless spot.
Sacred Heart accounted for St Peter’s College, Auckland by the same score. Brooklyn Baker broke the deadlock with a header in the first-half, exposing the St Peter’s goalie drifting off his line.
Sacred Heart was content to allow St Peter’s to come at them. St Peter’s kept possession for long periods, and occasionally threatened, but Sacred goalie Declan Vilijoen was steadfast.
Twenty minutes after the interval Riwai Stanton scored the winning goal when he drilled the ball hard into the right corner of the net.
It’s been a week of upsets with 2017 champions Hamilton Boys’ High School and Christchurch Premiership winners St Thomas of Canterbury College both failing to get out of their groups.
Hamilton was beaten 1-0 by Grammar on the first day while St Thomas stumbled against both Rutherford High School (Auckland) and Rathkeale College (Wairarapa) 1-0.
Sacred Heart twice came from behind to defeat Tauranga Boys’ College 3-2 in the quarter final. Earlier in the week Tauranga beat St Paul’s Collegiate by the extraordinary margin of 9-0.
The final kicks off at 1:30pm on Friday at Bluewater Stadium. The teams have met twice in the Auckland League this season with Grammar winning the first encounter 1-0 and Sacred Heart bouncing back with a 3-2 triumph in the latter fixture.
Sacred Heart have won four National titles since 2011.
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