With the unfortunate timing of the NCEA Level 2 Geography trip taking out three key players in Trey Alatini, Harry Kaveriri and Jarius Iosefa, and our playing stocks being reduced to only 10 players, the chances of success amongst the other top teams in this elite competition were waning.
Always up for a challenge, it was excellent to see the effort from these young men. Some tactical planning/gambling meant some players were out of position, with Callum Murray and Francis Manuleleua stepping into the highly demanding middles, and Maikel Tuala being promoted to the links. This meant we played all games with no subbing for Che Clark on one wing and Year 9 Quinn Moss on the other.
We firstly beat joint top-of-table Sacred Heart 8-6 with tries to Clark (2) Budda Doyle (2) Chicago Doyle, Moss and Tuala (2). In the process Dylan Naera tweaked a back muscle and we were left with only 9 players for the final 2 games.
Westlake stuck with us for the first half, until Chicago turned on the magic - scoring 4 incredible individual tries and setting up others in the 7-4 win. Clark, Murray and Budda Doyle also got touch-downs.
This set up the perfect final match, that would also decide the Regional Champion with King's unbeaten and Auckland Grammar with a draw and no other losses.
Grammar were exceptionally well-supported and when they were leading 0-3 shortly into the second half it was a barrage of abuse King's were taking - deservedly so when trailing by so much. Up stepped the Doyle cousins and 10 minutes later, 2 tries each and a 4-3 victory to King's in front of a now VERY quiet Grammar supporters group. Priceless!
Credit must be given to Wade Brunson who at very short notice gave some expert strategic planning to the team - this included telling the boys they would win (as they did) in the last 10 minutes against AGS and a plan of conserving energy in the first half.
Team: Chicago Doyle (co-capt) Budda Doyle (co-capt) Dylan Naera, Maikel Tuala, Francis Manuleleua, Quinn Moss, Levi Gwynne-Tuitahi, Dillon Vaoga, Callum Murray, Che Clark.
Away on Geography trip: Trey Alatini, Harry Kaveriri and Jarius Iosefa
Injured: Jack Elliott
Teacher in Charge of Touch