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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

Premiership

10am

Field 6 Papakura HS v Western Springs College

Referee - Simon Buttery Touch - Tane Kaiwai & Nick Gibson

10.30am

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

11.45am

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

Development

10am

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

11.15am

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

11.45am

Field 5 One Tree Hill College v Wesley College

Referee – Okena Simon Touch – Henare Chadwick & Graeme Hill

1.30pm Leadership school visits

ends

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