Sideline stars inspire Aorere upset
NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament - Sideline stars inspire Aorere upset
Just a few weeks ago, Aorere College were battling to make the field for this year's NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament.
Playing in the second tier of the Auckland competition, they lost the plate final to Southern Cross Campus and snatched the final of four qualifying spots available to Counties Manukau schools.
After two days of the national event, the Mangere outfit (2-0) have emerged as dark horses, belying their own expectations with victory over last year's runners-up, Mt Albert Grammar, and already booking their passage through to Thursday's semifinals.
Trailing 10-4 at halftime, they seized momentum in the second half, taking the lead with a field goal and clinching the 23-14 upset with two tries down the stretch.
"I'm told this is the first time we've beaten them, although we've come close in previous years," says coach Trent Silbery. "I knew we were very capable, but we just needed to play with some confidence and the right focus.
"Our big goal was to get here and now we're here, the boys are taking full advantage."
Aorere are also taking inspiration from the presence of Junior Warriors Viliami Kaveinga and Marata Niukore around their group.
Kaveinga is a former Aorere College student, who has been asked to help mentor the current crop of athletes, while Niukore has been unable to take his place on the field through commitments to the Warriors playoff bid.
"Having them around the boys and sharing their knowledge has made a big difference," says Silbery. "We've also had great leadership from our Year 13s, which has been a big influence when they take the field."
Aorere face Southern Cross again in a crossover fixture on Wednesday, but even if they lose and pool rivals Tokoroa High (1-1) also topple MAGS, they enjoy the benefit of a hard-fought 8-4 decision over the Waikato side on Day One.
Champions Kelston Boys High take on Otahuhu College in the biggest game on the final day of pool play. Each are unbeaten in Pool A, but while Otahuhu have dominated both their opponents so far, the West Aucklanders barely survived a crossover scare from Manurewa on opening day.
In development grade, Papatoetoe High and Francis Douglas College will put also their unbeaten records on the line in Pool G.
BTL 3 cover
NZRL National Secondary Schools Guide (September 3)
NZRL NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS TOURNAMENT
Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura
Wednesday, September 3
Field 6 Papakura HS v Western Springs College
Referee - Simon Buttery Touch - Tane Kaiwai & Nick Gibson
Field 1 Manurewa HS v Rotorua BHS
Referee - Mike Smail Touch - Nathan Barker Pringle & Kiko Puhipi Hibbs
Field 3 Kelston BHS v Otahuhu College
Referee - Jason Wilson Touch - Rochelle Tamarua & Okena Simon
Field 5 Southern Cross Campus v Aorere College
Referee – Chris Baker Touch – Henare Chadwick & Graeme Hill
Field 1 Mt Albert Grammar v Tokoroa HS
Referee - Kiko Puhipi Hibbs Touch - Mike Smail & Nathan Barker Pringle
Field 3 St Paul's College v Westlake BHS
Referee - Rochelle Tamarua Touch - Simon Buttery & Jason Wilson
Field 2 Northcote College v Greymouth HS
Referee – Sonny Whakarau Touch – Chris McMillan & Kena Waikai
Field 4 Pakuranga College v Aranui HS
Referee - Tony Arnel Touch - Noel Woods & Peter Sherwood
Field 2 Taita College v Mt Roskill Grammar
Referee – Kena Waikai Touch – Sonny Whakarau & Chris McMillan
Field 4 Papatoetoe HS v Francis Douglas College
Referee - Noel Woods Touch - Tony Arnel & Peter Sherwood
Field 6 Whangarei BHS v Rosehill College
Referee - Tony Cuccurrullo Touch - Tane Kaiwai & Nick Gibson
Field 5 One Tree Hill College v Wesley College
Referee – Okena Simon Touch – Henare Chadwick & Graeme Hill
1.30pm Leadership school visits