Southern Cross College held their nerve across two tough matches to win the Counties Junior Hawks Cup Cluster Tournament. The tournament was held at the Papatoetoe Sports Centre.
The Junior Hawks Cup constitutes the first step on the AFL New Zealand High Performance Pathway. Athletes that make an impression in these competitions can be rewarded with invitiations to the AFL New Zealand Combine programme, from which the very best are selected to represent New Zealand at age group level.
Running in conjunction with the Hawks Cup was the Counties Play AFL Club, which operates every Wednesday afternoon at Papatoetoe Sports Centre. Alongside the field with matches being played, children participated in AFL KiwiKick. If they needed any inspiration for why they should learn AFL skills, all they had to do was look at the games.
Each match was hard fought, with all teams making the most of their attacking opportunities. In the first round, Southern Cross College managed to pull away to defeat Aorere College. The final score was 7.4:46 to 4.4:28.
The second round saw Southern Cross College needing to beat Mission Heights Junior College to secure the title. They managed this with an impressive defensive effort, holding Mission Heights to just 4 scoring opportunities. The final score was 5.5:35 to 3.1:19.
With pride, and 2nd place to play for, both Mission Heights Junior College and Aorere College came out with fierce determination. Aorere College had many opportunities to put the match beyond doubt, however Mission Heights Junior College managed to hold on to sneak home with a draw. The final score was 3.4:22 for Mission Heights Junior College to 2.10:22 for Aorere College.
Mark McKenzie and Greg Boxhall from the Hawthorn Football Club were in attendance, scouting potential players to offer AFL International Scholarships. At present, three young New Zealanders currently hold an International Scholarship with the club, including Siope Ngata of Aorere College, who was the MVP at last year’s North Island Junior Hawks Cup.
Further Hawks Cup cluster tournaments will be taking place around the country over the coming weeks. The Junior Hawks Cup programme will culminate in the AFL Junior Secondary School North Island and South Island Championships, otherwise known as the, where school teams will have the opportunity to secure the title of being the best AFL team on their island. The current North Island title holders are Kelston Boys High School.
Fixtures and Results:
Southern Cross College 7.4:46 – 4.4:28 Aorere College
Southern Cross College 5.5:35 – 3.1:19 Mission Heights Junior College
Mission Heights Junior College 3.4:22 – 2.10:22 Aorere College