Papatoetoe High School beat strong field in Counties

The Counties Regional Senior Hawks Cup has been a stunning success, featuring three strong teams playing exciting and skilful AFL.

The tournament was won by Papatoetoe High School, who faced down fierce challenges from Aorere College and Southern Cross Campus, on a warm and humid afternoon at the Papatoetoe Sports Centre.

The first match began defensively, with both Papatoetoe High School and Southern Cross looking to shut the other side out. At half time, the score stood at 1.1:7 – 0.4:4, with Papatoetoe leading.

However, through the second half, Papatoetoe stepped up the intensity of their play, kicking 37 unanswered points, including 6 goals. The final score was 7.2:44 – 0.4:4.

The win set up an exciting clash between two of the strongest AFL schools in the country. Aorere College, boasting a lineup that included Hawthorn Hawks International Scholarship holder Siope Ngata, and five other AFL New Zealand High Performance players including Best on Ground winner Kalib Lewis, were tipped to triumph over Papatoetoe High School.

At first, the match followed the script, with Aorere College running out to a 2.5:17 – 1.0:6 lead at half time. However, Papatoetoe defender Kelepi Holi sparked a remarkable comeback.

Holi, in his second ever game of AFL, marked and spoiled at will, depriving the Aorere College forwards of clean possession. His performance led to Papatoetoe holding Aorere College scoreless over the second half, and earned himself the Player of the Tournament award in the process.

At the other end, Papatoetoe staged a counter attack, scoring 14 points to take a narrow lead. The final score reflected a remarkable turnaround, Papatoetoe High School winning 3.2:20 – 2.5:17.

Papatoetoe High School benefitted by having current New Zealand representatives Walter Fifita, Cori Albert and Sam McDougall in their squad, as well as High Performance players Taylor Holt and Ephraim Teisi. Their Best on Ground award winner for the tournament was George Pili.

With the tournament secured by Papatoetoe High School, Southern Cross and Aorere College were left to fight for second place. After a close first half in which only 5 points separated the teams, Aorere pulled away to win 6.2:38 – 2.2:14.

The support of teachers and Sports Coordinators made the Counties Regional Hawks Cup possible. Kameli Delana from Southern Cross, Debbie Boss from Papatoetoe High School and Drew Dunn from Aorere College all made sure the tournament was a success. Papatoetoe were also fortunate to have Sam McDougall and Walter Fifita play a leading role with their team.

Southern Cross Campus, while coming third in the Counties Regional Cluster Tournament, could still prove to be a threat at the North Island Championships. Their squad includes top players such as Best on Ground winner Peni Mafilio, 2013 North Island Junior Hawks Cup Tournament MVP winner Rudi Sifa, and fellow High Performance players Mavae Manuika and Naisa Taylor.

Attention for all three schools will now turn the the AFL Senior Secondary Schools North Island Championships, for which all are still eligible. St Paul’s College from the Auckland Cluster Tournament and Bay of Islands College from Northland should prove tough competition. The North Island Championships will be held on the 1st of March.