Southern Cross & Kelston through to national final
(Main photo: Kelston got home against Westlake to book a spot in the final. Credit: photosport.nz).
Southern Cross Campus College will chase their first NZRL National Secondary Schools rugby league title, when they take on Kelston Boys High School in the 2016 final at Papakura’s Bruce Pulman Park tomorrow.
But their West Auckland opponents also have a chance to earn their third crown in four years, having prevailed in 2013-14.
Both teams have looked impressive all week, emerging unbeaten from their pools.
Southern Cross seemed to take that form into the knockout encounter against 15-time champions St Paul’s, jumping out to an early 8-0 advantage, which they still held at the break.
But the reigning Auckland champions charged back into contention and eventually tied the scores at 14-14 with a penalty goal from Jaelin Murray.
With golden-point looming, Natoa Kairau charged over next to the posts and Siave Togoiu converted as the final siren sounded to seal the victory.
“We always knew it would come down to who made the less errors and completed their sets,” said Southern Cross coach Rod Ratu.
“So, it was a bit of a see-saw match and we were fortunate to come through in the last couple of minutes.
“There was a lot of support out there for us and I have no doubt, tomorrow, there will be a few ex-players watching with a bit of interest.
“It’s a massive win for the school – this certainly helps fly the flag. The school will be proud of the boys.”
Kelston wasted no time imposing their dominance over Westlake Boys High School, rattling on 22 points before their rivals could find the scoreboard.
“It’s been a really good week for us,” said coach Phil Gordon. “We’ve worked really hard on a few things and that paid off for us today.
“We put a lot of emphasis on what we needed to do as a team and nine times out of 10, if you achieve those goals, the result will look after itself. We just tried to control the game tempo and it paid off.
“Southern Cross are a bit of a juggernaut at the moment – a lot of footballers and some big boys in their team. We will need to lift again to make sure we’re up for the final.”
In the development grade, Onehunga High School sprung an upset over Trident High School, prevailing 30-10 to advance into the final.
They face Tai Wananga, who dispatched them 20-16 in pool play on Tuesday.
Both finals will be shown LIVE on SKY Sport.
NZRL NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS TOURNAMENT
Bruce Pulman Park, Papkura
Thursday, September 1
Tokoroa HS 18 Aorere College 6, Wesley College 36 Otahuhu College 18, Southern Cross Campus 20 St Paul’s College 14 (semi), Aranui HS 20 Manukura School 18, Tamaki College 28 Manurewa HS 10, Kelston BHS 34 Westlake BHS 16 (semi), Avondale College 20 Mt Albert Grammar 12, Papatoetoe HS 17 St Thomas of Canterbury 16
Onehunga HS 30 Trident HS 10 (semi), Papakura HS 36 Francis Douglas Memorial College 20, Tai Wananga 30 Sir Edmund Hillary College 24 (semi)
Friday, September 2
|15/16||Manukura School v St Thomas of Canterbury||5||9.15am|
|13/14||Aranui HS v Papatoetoe HS||6||10am|
|11/12||Otahuhu College v Mt Albert Grammar||6||9am|
|9/10||Wesley College v Avondale College||4||10am|
|7/8||Aorere College v Manurewa HS||2||10.15am|
|5/6||Tokoroa HS v Tamaki College||5||10.15am|
|3/4||St Paul’s College v Westlake BHS||3||10.15am|
|Final||Southern Cross Campus College v Kelston BHS||1||12.45pm|
|23/24||Francis Douglas Memorial College bye||6||9am|
|21/22||Mt Roskill Grammar v Papakura HS||4||9am|
|19/20||Trident HS v Sir Edmund Hillary College||2||9.15am|
|Final (17/18)||Onehunga HS v Tai Wananga||1||11.35am|