All roads head north to Whangarei next week where the country’s leading girls hockey schools contest the Federation Cup and Marie Fry Trophy tournament.
But will a southern team win this year’s Premier secondary school tournament?
Last year, Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s College won the Federation Cup, with Christchurch schools finishing second, third and fourth.
St Cuthbert’s appear to be the team to beat after just winning the Auckland Supercity competition for the third straight year.
St Cuthbert’s backed up their feats last year by completing a winning Super City campaign, beating Orewa College 6-0 in the final. By the close of round-robin play they had scored 42 goals and conceded just six in seven matches.
Auckland Diocesan finished second in the round-robin but were beaten by third placed Orewa (fifth in Auckland last year) in their semi-final and then Dio edged Westlake Girls’ High School in a penalty shootout in their 3rd v 4th match.
Orewa College were beaten finalists (to Sacred Heart, Hamilton) in the tier 3 Chica Gilmer Trophy national tournament last year, While third placed Kamo High School also have a berth in this year’s Federation Cup from that tournament.
Dio will be joined in pool B by last year’s fourth placed finisher Villa Maria from Christchurch, Tauranga Girls’ College and Timaru Girls’ College.
King’s College (16th in Federation Cup last year), Saint Kentigern College (21st overall) and Kristin School (22nd) are the other Auckland/North Harbour schools at this year’s tournament in Whangarei.
Five of the top six Christchurch First XIs will be attending this year’s top tier tournament, headed by St Margaret’s College who made it fourth time lucky on Friday night in winning this year’s competition last Friday night.
Beaten Canterbury finalists from each of the past three years, St Margaret’s defeated Christchurch Girls’ High School 2-1 in the decider and go into this year’s Federation Cup as 2017 bronze medallists.
Fourth placed qualifier Christchurch Girls had upset last year’s defending champions Rangi Ruru in their semi-final. Rangi Ruru were unbeaten through 10 round-robin matches and defended the girls Connectics Challenge Shield.
Christchurch Girls’ High School return to the top 32 tournament after being beaten finalists last year by Waikato Diocesan in the bottom 16 Marie Fry section. St Andrew’s College and Villa Maria are the other Christchurch schools at Federation Cup.
Local Hawke’s Bay team Iona College were the highest finishing non Auckland or Canterbury school last year, beating this year’s home school Whangarei Girls’ High School in the fifth v sixth playoff. Iona are joined by Havelock North High School and Napier Girls’ High School. Central won the U18 national tournament in Dunedin in July so expect all three to be pushing hard.
Palmerston North Girls’ High School were seventh last year and fly the flag for the Manawatu schools, while New Plymouth Girls’ High School and Sacred Heart College make the trip north from Taranaki.
In Waikato, Sacred Heart, Hamilton and Tauranga Girls’ College meet in the Girls Division 1 final on Wednesday.
These schools are joined by Waikato Dio, Hamilton GHS and Hillcrest High School from Hamilton and BoP’s Bethlehem and Otumoetai Colleges.
What of the Wellington schools? Their best chance could rest on Masterton’s St Matthews’s Collegiate (10th last year) who retained their regional title on Friday night with a 1-0 win over top qualifier Wellington Girls’ College. Gutsy defence won the day against Wellington Girls’ who will be attempting to win the tier 3 Jenny Hair Cup in Carterton this year.
Queen Margaret College and Wairarapa College are the only other two Wellington competition First XI schools playing in this year’s Federation Cup.
In Dunedin, Columba College head to the far north for the Federation Cup as beaten Otago Secondary Schools finalists, having lost 2-1 to Dunedin rivals St Hilda’s Collegiate in their decider last week. Columba made the Federation Cup top 16 last year.
Pools and teams below:
With it being less than a week out before the best 32 boys secondary school teams converge on Mt Maunganui to contest the India Shield and Rankin Cup, several teams are coming into form at just the right time.
This year there are just two unbeaten teams going into winter tournament week, Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College and Kings High School from Dunedin. Last year there were also two undefeated teams after secondary school finals week, Christ’s College who went on to win Rankin Cup and Kings High who placed 10th.
Several other teams have performed consistently well this season only dropping one or two games along the way in their quest to win their local competition. Paraparaumu College, Hamilton Boys’ High School, St Andrews and New Plymouth Boys’ High School fall into this category.
Both Paraparaumu and St Andrews took out their respective finals last Friday night after being beaten finalists last year, so they come into tournament week on the back of winning form.
New Plymouth, who were promoted after winning their tier 3 tournament last year, have achieved impressive results this season. They won the New Plymouth men’s open grade title and defeated Hamilton Boys 2-1 to take out Super 8. Their only loss was 2-1 to Wellington College in a Traditional which was played in July.
Coincidentally Wellington placed third in the Wellington Competition behind Paraparaumu and Rongotai College who played their final last Friday night with Paraparaumu winning an exciting encounter 3-2 in golden goal extra time.
Last year Paraparaumu placed 5th, Hamilton 6th, St Andrews 7th, Kings High 10th and St Kentigern 17th.
The Auckland Super City final was contested last Wednesday night between Westlake Boys’ High School and Saint Kentigern College who were both undefeated going into the final. St Kentigern took the honours in a keenly contested and even affair 1-0 with the winning goal being scored in the last minute of regulation time. With this win St Kentigern must be considered one of the favourites particularly as they won India Shield last year and are unbeaten since. What gives further credence to their claim is they return to Mt Maunganui with their squad fully intact.
It should be noted that although Westlake lost the Supercity final they did attend a quad in Christchurch last month where they defeated St Andrews by a solitary goal, and up until that stage had also been undefeated. St Andrews then went on to win the Canterbury Secondary Schools title last Friday night, 6-4 on penalty shootouts after it was 2-2 at full time.
Although Whangarei Boys, Palmerston North Boys and Tauranga Boys play in their men’s competition with Tauranga playing their last round in the Midlands Supercity secondary competition, their form has been mixed.
Last month after the Regional U18 Tournament in Dunedin, which was won by Capital over Auckland, 30 field players and six goalies were named as part of the U18 New Zealand Talent Identification Squad.
Interestingly, with the exception of Paraparaumu who placed 5th last year all of the top contenders for Rankin have one or more players named in the squad of 36, with Kings High and Whangarei both having three. Westlake, St Kentigern, St Andrews, Rosmini, Pukekohe and Napier each have two.
In addition to those named in the U18 Talent Squad of 36, further identification will take place at the upcoming Aon Secondary Schools Tournaments around the country from the 3rd - 7th September 2018 (see below).
“It was a bit lucky. The ball got loose and Branden Russ managed to get a stick on it and nudge it in,” Tom Nicholls recalls of how the winning goal was scored in the Super 8 hockey final.
The New Plymouth Boys’ High School co-captain might be a touch modest in capturing the gravity of ‘Russty’s’ strike.
In extra time and with each side reduced to nine players, including no goalkeeper, New Plymouth managed a pivotal play which won them the Super 8 title for the first time since the inception of the tournament in 1997.
The Super 8 is one of the leading hockey tourneys in New Zealand. Last year, Palmerston North BHS (3), Hamilton BHS (6) and Tauranga BC (8) were all in the top eight at Rankin Cup Nationals.
Two years ago in Super 8, New Plymouth were seventh and last year won the Mayhill Cup. What is the Mayhill Cup?
“The Mayhill Cup is one of the third tier Nationals,” Nicholls answers.
“Our goal was to win it and we did beating Rotorua Boys’ (another Super 8 side) in the final. We felt we were good enough to be a Rankin Cup side last year. We actually got beaten in the final of Super 8 by Hamilton Boys,” Nicholls expanded.
New Plymouth only lost one player last season and the benefits of retaining a familiar squad were best illustrated on a development tour to Malaysia earlier this year.
Monte Burmester is Nicholls co-captain and explains the background to the trip.
“It was about three years in the making and cost us $3500 each. We did a lot of fundraising like quiz nights, wool shed cleanings and anything we could do really. It was a great way to bond,” Burmester reveals.
New Plymouth played six games in 12 days, in mostly oppressive heat, earning three draws and a victory.
“The standard of hockey was really good. The Malaysians play quiet a fast and skillful game. I learned a lot,” Burmester enthused.
New Plymouth set a high standard in pool play at Super 8 conceding just a solitary goal en-route to the semi-final where Napier BHS awaited.
Napier, boasting Lucca Burley, the tournament’s leading goal scorer with 11 goals presented a tough challenge.
“Napier were a good side, them and Hastings actually as well as Palmerston North. We had to produce our best to beat them both,” Nicholls said.
In the final, New Plymouth seized an early lead, but an even tussle saw Hamilton equalise. The balance and experience of the New Plymouth team ultimately proved telling. Nicholls was recently selected for a New Zealand Under-18 squad while Ryan Gilmour, Graydon Scott and Branden Russ each scored four goals while Michael Spurdle scored three, illustrating the all-round attacking threat of New Plymouth.
New Plymouth is being coached by Jamie Stones, who is the Hockey Development Officer for the school and a PE teacher. Jamie has been at the school for the last four years, after returning from studying at the University of Waikato and working for Sport Waikato. He has been involved in coaching age group Central sides over the last few years. David Stones (Jamie's dad), assists along with Black Stick Ben Collier.
How far can the NPBHS go in the Rankin Cup?
“We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We're just taking things one game at a time,” Burmester warned.
New Plymouth Super 8 Results
Pool Play: Hastings BHS, 2-0
Pool Play: Rotorua BHS, 10-0
Pool Play: Palmerston North BHS, 3-1
Semi-Final: Napier BHS, 4-3
Grand Final: Hamilton BHS, 2-1
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