The National Secondary Schools touch championships concluded at Bruce Pulman Park in Auckland on the weekend with regular combatants Rotorua and Hamilton Boys’ High School battling each other for the boys title and St. Kentigern College looking to end Hamilton Girls’ regin as champions in the female decider.
The stage was set for two thrilling climaxes when Paeroa College beat Howick College 9-8 in the mixed final. Howick crossed the line with 90 seconds remaining, but was denied a touchdown. Howick then lost a player to the sin bin for pulling at the singlet and Hendrix Beazley triggered wild celebrations for the Thames Valley outfit when he touched down 25 seconds shy of fulltime.
Reports of the boys and girls finals and tournament teams below:
Boys Final: Rotorua Boys’ High School: 4 v Hamilton Boys’ High School: 3
Two dramatic touchdowns in the final minute of the first-half were pivotal in Rotorua’s 4-3 triumph.
Down 3-1, with 58 seconds remaining until the interval, Rotorua closed the gap to 3-2 when Kalem Strickland fired a bullet pass to captain Jayden Sargent to dive over.
Hamilton responded by attacking ominously and Raiki Willison lunged towards the line on the hooter, but was caught in a desperate touch by Kawiti Rauwhero who then claimed the ball and rapidly released Silver Shuster who dashed the length of the field to tie the scores.
The second-spell saw both defences tighten and few chances afforded. Rotorua claimed a lead they never lost when Tereti Makarauri spiraled a long ball out to an unmarked Tome Poona with seven minutes left.
Earlier Hamilton attained a controversial lead when Cameron Todd ran from dummy-half and touched down.
Kobian Richardson had initially propelled Hamilton ahead after the opening drive left Rotorua undermanned on the right edge of their defense.
An extravagant dummy by by Jordan Tukana-Hudson created Rotorua’s first touchdown. The deception would have even fooled the man with no name!
Hamilton and Rotorua have won 12 of the 24 National Championships and this final was an illustration why. It was a typically gripping and high-quality tussle.
Girls Final: St Kentigern College: 4 v Hamilton Girls’ High School: 3
St Kentigern College rallied from a 2-3 deficit to dethrone the defending champions.
That first-half was a tense affair with both teams exchanging a try each. Tanith Pilkington crossed in the first set of six for St Kent’s and Regan Stephens responded for Hamilton.
The momentum turned Hamilton’s way after the break when New Zealand representative Jazmin Hotham seized the initiative and engineered two touchdowns for her side. Firstly she galloped away from the defence in a fine solo effort and then she distributed from dummy-half to create Stephens’ second.
Down 3-2, St Kent’s levelled with five minutes left when Lilly Ellis finished an overlap on the wing.
Jaymie Kolose was named girls tournament MVP and she saved her best moment to last, ferreting out of dummy-half and creating a second and winning touchdown for Ellis.
Courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/touchnz/
Day 1 photos: www.facebook.com/pg/touchnz/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1566332403401974
Day 2 photos: www.facebook.com/pg/touchnz/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1567444166624131
Day 3 photos: https://www.facebook.com/pg/touchnz/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1568480609853820
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