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).
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