“You’re not having a very good day mate,” quipped Napier Boys’ High School goal keeper Daniel Robinson to a Hamilton Boys’ High School striker after pulling off a one-on-one save during the First XI Super 8 football final last week.
“It was pretty much a bombardment. Hamilton put us under a lot of pressure and forced me into making a lot of saves.” Robinson reflects when describing Napier’s gusty penalty shootout triumph.
In the space of 12 months Napier have gone from fifth in Super 8 to a top eight ranking side nationally and now Super 8 winners for the first time since 2008. Robinson attributes the improvement to an overhaul in tactics.
“Last year our strategy of keeping the ball and attacking wasn’t really working. Other teams are quicker and more skilful on the ground so we changed to a more defensive mindset. That’s not to say we can’t attack, but we find we are better at stifling the opposition,” he reveals.
Robinson kept three clean sheets in the first four matches of Super 8 as Napier blunted all challenges to reach the final. Jorge Akers scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over New Plymouth BHS and the deciding goal in the semi-final against Palmerston North BHS. Hamilton was foiled 2-0 on day one being reduced to 10 men.
“We knew the final would be different, they really came at us. It required a team effort to win,” Robinson assesses.
There was one save that Robinson was particularly proud of though.
“In the first-half they had a corner and I followed the ball when suddenly it hit the knee of one of their players and rebounded in the opposite direction I was headed. I had to reverse and palm it away. I’m not sure how I did it.”
Robinson’s powers of concentration may provide some clues as to his goal keeping prowess.
“The toughest challenge as a goalie is maintaining concentration. In some games, you’re doing nothing for an hour and in others your constantly on your feet. I am always working on ways of trying to maintain my focus.”
There are eight weeks until Nationals and Napier are seriously focused on a positive outcome. They will be training three times a week, plus gym sessions, in the lead up to the 32-school event which is in their home town.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence. We’re playing good football and the group is tight,” Robinson enthuses.
Robinson used to be a goal keeper in hockey. He plays futsal and was a member of the Napier Boys’ team who were runners up at Nationals in Wellington this year. He is on the cusp of cracking the Napier City Rovers Central League team. In 2018, Robinson hopes to study health science at Otago University.
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