“We are a completely different team from that in April. We have some players in different positions and are playing a different style of hockey. I think were heaps better,” warns captain Tim Neild when talking about the Hamilton Boys’ High School First XI.
Hamilton is unbeaten in 17 games in 2017 and in addition to being the only team to win all their matches at the ANZAC festival of hockey in April won the Super 8 title for the seventh time in Gisborne last week.
The Super 8 tournament is a fine dress rehearsal for Rankin Cup.
“Five games in three days is a heavy workload, but its good preparation for Rankin. Often tournament play is a survival of the fittest,” Neild explains.
Hamilton topped pool play at the Super 8 and had far too much gusto for Gisborne Boys’ High School winning by the staggering scoreline of 19-0. Neild scored three goals, but was quick to commend Gisborne’s spirit.
“We’ve struggled to score goals at times this season and the Gisborne game was one of those games where everything went in. Obviously they weren’t the strongest side, but they never gave up and I respect them for that.”
Napier Boys’ High School proved a far tougher nut to crack, but two goals by Neild secured a 3-1 victory and a place in the semi-finals.
Hastings Boys’ High School had to beat Hamilton to keep their finals prospects alive, but a drab encounter resulted in a scoreless draw.
“That was a boring game. Hastings played well, but we lacked polish and had one eye on the semis,” Neild moans.
Hamilton was switched on for the semi-finals eliminating Palmerston North Boys’ High School 3-1.
“Palmy have been our main rivals over the years. We started slowly, but two goals before halftime settled some nerves. Palmerston North pulled a goal back in the second-half, but I think we always had their measure,” Neild reflects.
For the first time in 13 years New Plymouth Boys’ High School contested the final. Neild, originally from Taranaki, reveals New Plymouth were stubborn opponents.
“We won 4-1, but New Plymouth played with a lot of passion. We got an early 2-0 lead before New Plymouth got some momentum and pulled a goal back via a PC. It was always competitive, but the boys stuck to the task.”
Neild scored a goal in the decider and reinforced his considerable promise which has seen him represent the Junior Black Sticks and both the Midlands U18 and U21 squads.
Neild has been a member of two Rankin Cup winning teams in 2014 and 2015. This year he believes Christ’s College, St. Paul’s Collegiate and Whangarei Boys’ High School are among the biggest threats for the 4-9 September tournament, which is being played at home in Hamilton.
In addition to being First XI skipper, Neild is deputy head prefect and an academic prefect who is achieving at excellence level and hopes to study engineering in 2018.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand