The Wellington Junior Hawks Cup Cluster Tournament has been held, with strong performances being registered by teams from around the region. The tournament was held at Hutt Park.
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 invitations to the AFL New Zealand Combine programme, from which the very best are selected to represent New Zealand at age group level.
Four schools were represented at the tournament, with defending champions Wellington College sending two teams. St Patrick’s College Town and St Patrick’s College Silverstream each sent a team, with the final team coming from Aotea College. Each of those schools has participated in AFL New Zealand Secondary School Programmes.
From Wellington College, the two teams were seeded based on a top team, made up mostly of year 10 students, and a development team made up of younger students. One of the most heartening moments of the tournament was when the Wellington College 2 attackers combined to put in a goal against Wellington College 1. Wellington College 1 was by far the strongest team at the Wellington Junior Hawks Cup, sweeping all other teams aside through polished offense and clinical defence.
However, every school enjoyed moments of glory and excitement, with Aotea College securing second place thanks to their fast and physical style of play. The match of the tournament came in the 2nd round, when the rival St Patrick’s Colleges saw their representative teams draw 27-27. St Patrick’s College Town came within a whisker of winning the match, however a late attempt on attack only earned them a 1 point Behind, while a goal would have secured the victory.
The support of the local AFL community was invaluable in the success of the tournament. As well as local AFL fans assisting in the running of the tournament, Hutt Valley Eagles player Alex Wood coached St Patrick’s College Silverstream, and local AFL New Zealand High Performance coach Shannon Wall coached Wellington College 2. Guy Ferguson, a local league player and PE teacher at Aotea College, coached his school’s team.
Other teams were managed and coached by school staff or senior students. The victorious Wellington College 1 was coached by students Hugo Phillips and Jack Green. St Patrick’s College Town were coached by school H.O.D of P.E Leigh Lidstone and AFL New Zealand’s Sam McKenzie.
Hutt Park is the major home of AFL in Wellington, and will be hosting a series of exciting matches in December. The AFL Flying Boomerangs will be taking on the U-16 New Zealand Hawks on the 12th and 14th of December, with the Wellington AFL League Final also being held at Hutt Park on the 14th.
The Junior Hawks Cup programme will culminate in the North Island and South Island Hawks Cups, 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.
MVPs for the Wellington Junior Hawks Cup Cluster Tournament:
Wellington College 1: Esau Quinton Poluku
Wellington College 2: Jasef Villalobos
Aotea College: Edward Faleafaga
St Patrick’s College Town: Connor Fitzsimons
St Patrick’s College Silverstream: Josh Tainui
Overall Tournament MVP: Efrain Villalobos of Wellington College 1
Fixtures and Results:
Wellington College 1 4.4: 28 – 3.4: 22 St Patrick’s College Silverstream
St Patrick’s College Town 9.7: 61 – 1.0: 6 Wellington College 2
Wellington College 1 6.1: 37 – 1.0: 6 Aotea College
St Patrick’s College Silverstream 4.3: 27 – 4.3: 27 St Patrick’s College Town
Aotea College 9.5: 59 – 0.0: 0 Wellington College 2
Wellington College 1 3.1: 19 – 0.4: 4 St Patrick’s College Town
Aotea College 1. 8: 14 – 0.2: 2 St Patrick’s College Silverstream
Wellington College 2 1.0: 6 – 8.1: 49 Wellington College 1
St Patrick’s College Town 3.3: 21 – 3.6: 24 Aotea College
Wellington College 2 0.0: 0 – 8.5 53 St Patrick’s College Silverstream