Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
22 hours ago
GOLDEN POINT THRILLER SEES OTAHUHU COLLEGE MAKE HISTORY AT NZ SECONDARY SCHOOL RUGBY LEAGUE NATIONALS
Auckland, New Zealand August 26, 2011 - After a week of exciting competition, the sun was shining on Papakura and the excellent facilities at Bruce Pulman Park were ready for a blockbuster finals day and the football didn't disappoint.
All players in the finals worked hard for each other, trying to the last to do right by their team mates, schools and families.
In an absolute thriller the Grand Final was played in almost perfect conditions, the field was immaculate, the crowd was large and supportive, lining all four sides of the pitch and standing rows deep in many places. Supporters from both Otahuhu College and St Paul's were on hand to witness the game, with many of the St Paul's group singing to support their team whenever possible.
St Pauls scored first, when Sione Maasi (No. 15) scored a try which went unconverted. The hooker, David Ryan was the next to score and his try was converted by Jamon Peua (No. 7), taking the score to 10 - nil. Joshua Tafili, the centre scored next and it was 14 - nil and looked like St Paul's were on track for their eight win in a row.
Otahuhu fought back strongly, with tries to Jacob Paulo (No. 13), and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck both converted by the number six Phoenix Paeu.
At half time the score was 14 - 12 to St Paul's College.
After half time St Paul's came out hard and fast and scored a try through Christopher Safae (No. 14). When this was converted by Jamon Peua, and then a penalty was kicked by Semisi Havili (No.16), the score was 22 - 12 and it appeared another fight back by Otahuhu was unlikely.
However Otahuhu had other ideas and started to make impressive metres and tries were scored by Sione Feao (No. 12), and centre Viliami Lolohea and when Phoenix Paeu (No.6) kicked a conversion the score was tied at 22 all and the hooter had gone.
With a winner having to be found, after a short break, play resumed and Otahuhu attacked St Paul's line, but didn't take what appeared to be an excellent opportunity to attempt a field goal. St Paul's defence had held firm and they took the ball down the other end but couldn't cross the line.
Otahuhu brought the ball back hard and fast and when the Watson Heleta, the number two kicked through the line everyone held their breath. The ball bounced his way and Otahuhu had scored the golden point match winning try.
It was an outstanding game, played in a fantastic spirit and both teams had a lot to be proud of. While St Pauls were understandably disappointed with the final result, they handled themselves with great pride at the after match presentations.
Following the game which finished the tournament, Sasho Stosic, NZRL's Operations Manager thanked everyone in attendance for their exemplary behaviour throughout the tournament, and congratulated all the teams for their performances throughout a busy week of football.
NZRL Referees Manager, Marc Harris thanked all the Match officials and Match Managers for their work throughout the tournament and on the finals day and presented the Grand Final officials, Referee Jamal Thompson and touch judges AJ Purnell and Nigel Williams with a Samurai Sportswear gift. All finals day match officials received a much appreciated gift from Samurai Sportswear.
Two tournament awards were also outstanding and were presented after the Grand Final.
The Bill Sharp Golden Boot award was presented to Otahuhu College's Phoenix Paeu, who kicked 20 goals throughout the tournament.
The Manukau Institute of Technology Most Valuable Player of the Tournament award was presented to Viliami Lolohea, Otahuhu College who won the award with 9 points. The runner up was Fine Faingaa from Aorere College, with 8 points.
As well as four days of football, the players have enjoyed a number of off-field activities including a Leadership programme, primary school visits, a visit from local MP and Minister of Police Judith Collins, and coaching clinics with Kiwis.
Fair play has been a focus for the players involved in the tournament, right from the opening speeches, through the Leadership programme, their presentations to children in the regions primary schools and at the awards night.
There have been many examples of this on field with winning teams offering support to losing teams at the end of games. The captains of all the tournament teams took the time to sign the Rugby League pledge and commit to the New Zealand Rugby League values of Integrity, Respect, Leadership, Courage, and Passion.
The tournament finished in the best possible way, with an excellent final which offered everything and everyone agreed they are looking forward to next year already.
Finals Day Results
St Paul's College 22 v Otahuhu College 26
Southern Cross College 10 v Mt Albert Grammar 22
Tangaroa College 40 v Wainuiomata High School 18
Fraser High School 18 v Aranui High School 21
Other Play Offs:
Tokoroa High School 4 v Aorere College 28
Manurewa High School 2 v Papakura High School 14
Papatoetoe High School 6 v Mt Roskill Grammar 40
Rangitoto College 4 v St John's College 48
For all tournament details and information about the other finals games please visit the website here www.nzrl.co.nz/national-secondary-schools