Perhaps the best way to erase the pain of defeat is to heed the lessons of failure and return to the site of the setback stronger.
In 2018, Tauranga Boys’ College First XI was beaten narrowly in the final of the Super 8 football competition by Hamilton Boys’ High School.
On Wednesday, with three returning players from last year’s roster, Tauranga won the Super 8 title for the first since 2007; thumping New Plymouth Boys’ High School 4-0 in the final.
Riley Bidois, Stan Rust and Scott Hawkins, runners-up a year ago, scored three of the four goals with skipper Hawkins applying the exclamation mark after his side led 3-0 at halftime.
“We tried not to focus on last year, but it was talked about before the final,” Hawkins admits.
“New Plymouth was a good side and they had a big home crowd out for it. Our early goal was important to silence them.”
In the semi-final, Tauranga managed to silence Hamilton Boys’ High School 2-1. Goals were scored by Rust and Alfie Cole, before Hamilton predictably launched a rally.
“They scored with about 15 minutes to go. It got a little nervy as they pressed, but our defence was strong,” Hawkins acclaimed.
Tauranga’s defence wilted in their inconsequential group game against Palmerston North Boys’ High School. Having already qualified for the semi-finals, Tauranga rested some key talent and was beaten 1-3.
In their first two group games, Tauranga accounted for Gisborne Boys’ High School 3-0 and Hastings Boys’ High School 7-0. In the Gisborne game goals were scored by Cole, Braxton Fisher, and Max Came. The highlight of the Hastings rout was a hat-trick to Fisher.
In addition to their Super 8 triumph, Tauranga - by virtue of their success against Hamilton in the semis - won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty qualifying zone for Nationals. Tauranga was sixth at the Nationals last year and Fisher is hopeful Tauranga can at least match that performance.
“We aim to win every game we play. We’ve got a good team and though competition is tough we’ll back ourselves.”
The Nationals are in Napier in September during Winter Tournament Week.
Riley Bidois was recently named in the New Zealand Under-17 training squad while Hawkins, originally from the South of London, plays in central defense.
Interestingly Tauranga have won the Super 8 four times with three of those successes in New Plymouth.
Coach Neil Howard has won six Super 8 titles across three sports while co-ocach Alex Bryant lost finals in 2012, 2015 and 2018.
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