Jake Russ was keen to begin 2018 by settling some old scores.
Russ was the starting openside flanker in the Hamilton Boys’ High School First XV which lost the National Top Four Rugby final to Hastings Boys’ High School in September 2017.
Last week the Hamilton First XI faced Hastings in the first game of the Super 8 cricket tournament. Russ made 100.
“I was pretty lucky to be honest. I was dropped early in my innings and struggled to score freely for a while because the ball was nipping about. When I decided to play more expansively things started happening,” Russ recalls.
Unfortunately, the match was abandoned at the halfway point due to a storm. However, Hamilton posted 279 and the century by Russ was the catalyst for greater things to follow.
Hamilton convincingly beat Napier Boys’ High School and then extracted revenge upon Tauranga Boys’ College, who eliminated Hamilton from Secondary School Boys' First XI Cup Finals contention last year. Russ captures the action against the Northern Districts champions.
“Tauranga won the toss and put us into the field. We managed to bowl them out for 145, but had a niggly period before lunch where we had to survive half an hour. We lost two wickets before Jacob Parker and Jake Ottow guided us to victory.”
Parker made 98 not out and was singled out for special praise by Russ.
“Jacob opens the batting and bowling. He's only year 11 and has a big future,” Russ acclaimed.
Hamilton has won the Super 8 cricket title ten times.
Russ is the only student at Hamilton in the First XV rugby and First XI cricket sides. He has grown from 72kg to 91kg in 12 months. A strict diet and strong bond with his teammates has driven Russ to greater heights.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the rugby boys,” Russ explains. “We get on really well and build a strong bond.”
“We have about 10 returning players this season. Most of them are in the forwards so we will look to dominate teams in that area before utilising our speed out wide.”
What does Hamilton’s First XV have to do to become National champions? What has to change from the Top Four final last year?
“I don't think we could've played any better. Hastings was a very good team. There was nothing in it,” Russ asserts.
Russ was a member of the Hamilton side that won the Condor 7s in December. Hamilton beat Scots College, Wellington in the final to win the crown for the third year on the trot.
Jake’s mother is a school teacher and his father runs a retirement village. Jake is uncertain which sport he will pursue next year. However he has made the choice harder for himself already.
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