Rangitoto College have won their fourth New Zealand Secondary Schools Boys Water Polo title, after defeating St. Kentigern College 7-6 in a thrilling National final at the Wellington Regional Aquatics Centre on Tuesday. The top four was made up exclusively of Auckland schools and they didn't fail to entertain the capital crowd.
North Island Champions Auckland Grammar School were down 5-2 after three quarters, but rallied to force penalties against Rangitoto College.
In the final quarter Nick Stankoick commenced the comeback when he gently lobbed the ball over an-out-of-position Rangitoto goal-keeper.
Fraser Brodie burst three-quarters of the pool to set-up Hamish Waddell to make it 5-4 and when Calum de Jager pulled the trigger violently to level the scores the game was extended into a penalty shootout.
Rangitoto gained an early 4-2 advantage when Christopher Downie, the North Island Secondary Schools MVP, was dramatically denied. Grammar rallied to tie the scores when Hamish Waddell blasted a fierce shoot past the startled Rangitoto keeper, but the North Shore school kept their cool and eventually prevailed 7-6. Jack Brotherton was a pivotal figure for Rangitoto. He scored two goals and shot his penalty.
Defending National Champions Sacred Heart College appeared on course for the final in the second-quarter when Nick Paterson scored three goals in two minutes to reverse a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead.
However St. Kent's were well organised defensively and often forced Sacred Heart to shoot from wide on the wings. Paterson's impressive ability to out-manoeuvre defenders was restricted and Sacred Heart was hassled into uncharacteristic turnovers. St. Kent's showed superior composure and scored four unanswered goals to surge ahead 6-4. Ryan McEwen was a dominant figure scoring two goals and helping create another. Despite a late Sacred Heart rally, St. Kent's held their nerve to reach the final, a best ever result at Nationals for them.
With a second left in the third quarter, tournament MVP Dominic Chitar rifled the ball three-quarters of the pool past the Rangitoto keeper to make it 6-4. At this point the final appeared over as Chitar celebrated a second goal.
However Rangitoto tightened their defence in the last quarter and when the prolific Jack Brotherton scored his third goal with 82 seconds left the scores were tied at six each.
The penalty shootout was tic for tac, but when Jake Lockwood scored to make it 7-6 Rangitoto finally subdued a stubborn St. Kent's.
Rangitoto College NZSS Water Polo Nationals Results
Photo Credit to Mike Lewis
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