The atmosphere was electric at 4pm on Wednesday 6 April at The Whangarei Sports Arena, when Whangarei Boys High School and Kaitaia College headed out on to the field for honours in the Northland Secondary School rugby league competition for the NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy Grand Final. The teams ensured that they kept it that way during an intense final that did not reflect the final score. Defending champions Whangarei Boys High School defended ferociously but the Kaitaia College continually challenged with deft and enthusiastic running from dummy half that built their platform for their back play. The try line was crossed only once in first half by industrious Kaitaia forward and eventual man of the match Jackson Sparkman-Brott for a 6 -0 halftime lead. Boys High played to the strength of their forward pack with Wiremu Greig and Manaia Te Pirihi making telling in-roads down the middle. However the resilient team from the North prevailed and crossed the line twice more in the second half with tries to Sadius Cook-Savage and Memphis Ngaruhe in the dying minute of the game, to earn the champions title for the 2016 NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy. Final score 16-0 to Kaitaia.
In the Plate Final Dargaville High School ran out eventual winners over Kamo College 40 – 36. Both teams had a player notch up four tries each. With Dargaville’s classy centre Nasi Kuli finished well with skilled touches while Kamo’s hard working forward Manasseh Turner proving a nightmare to opposition defenders close to the try line.
The Grand Final was a great game of rugby league and according to Aaron Thomas, Development Manager of Rugby League Northland, it was an epic event fitting for a grand final scenario.
The Secondary Schools competition started in 2010 with 6 teams and progressed over the years to include 17 high schools competing in 14 teams for the 2016 NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy, with Kaitaia College being the top team in the North Pool and Whangarei Boys High School the top of the South Pool. Mr Thomas commented that it was fitting that these two talented teams should be playing each other in the final.
“The Adam Blair Trophy is a great way to introduce rugby league to new players, and from the Rugby League Northland point of view, it is instrumental for developing new players interested in the sport who often live to far away to join their local rugby league club.”
The Adam Blair Trophy is named after Whangarei local and ex Whangarei Boys High School student, 30 year old professional rugby league player, Adam Blair, who plays for the Kiwis, and is also in the NRL team, the Brisbane Broncos.
Photos from the event will be available soon.
Next week sees the culmination of the heavily contested NorthTec Adam Blair Trophy head into semi-finals. This is Rugby League Northlands Premier Secondary School Competition. We have the top two teams from the North and South teams fighting it out for the Adam Blair Trophy and the 3rd and 4th placed teams from each zone battling it out for the Northern Swords Shield (Plate).
Adam Blair Trophy Semi-Finals— Wednesday 30th March at 4.30pm:
WBHS v Northland College – at WBHS
Kaitaia College v Kamo High School – at Kaitaia College
The Northern Swords Shield (Plate) Semi-Finals— Wednesday 30thMarch at 4.30pm:
Dargaville High School v Whangaroa College – at Dargaville High School
Kura Kaikohe v BOI College – at Northland College
All teams are packed with strike power and wanting to get their hands on the silverware. Boys High v Northland college will see both teams flexing their muscle with two big forward packs wanting to lay the platform. Players to watch: WBHS: Wiremu Grieg, Jayden Laupepe, Stylie Antonio & Ngatai Manukau-Togiavalu. Northland College: John and Phoenix Henare-Clarke, Taite Kopa & Tamati Leach
Whereas the Kaitaia College v Kamo High School game will see Kaitaia, who have been together for over 3 years, wanting to test the fruition of their program against a much younger but heavily structured side. Players to watch: Kaitaia College-Jackson Sparks-Brott, Te Kahi Nathan, Brody Tamarua & Rihari Pomare. Kamo High School- Ariki Hughes, Manasseh Turner, James Witehira and Hakaraia Corkery
In the Champions Cup we have a very mobile Dargaville take on a smaller pack, but with speed out wide the Whanagaroa side will test and ask questions if given room.
Players to watch: Dargaville– Thomas Anderson, Rico Cook, Lathan Hutchinson-Walters & Hoani Rogers-Brown. Whangaroa– Troy Hughes, Royce Sanderson and Wiremu Kakarana
On the other side of the draw we see a very evenly matched game which will be close. Kura Kaikohe have a free running style and are dangerous in open play whereas BOI run good shape and will look to win the arm wrestle. Players to watch: BOI College– Micheal Davis, Jarrod Hona, and Xavier Nilsson-Cherrington. Kura Kaikohe– Osaiasi Tau-Kata, Ngapuhi Simeon and Wiremu Herewini
As we approach the last round of the Adam Blair Trophy pool phase, the contest for finals berths are coming down to the last round. In the North we have Kaitaia College and Northland College tied on points for first place and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe in second place. Northland College need to beat Whangaroa College and Kaitaia College who are the favourites will need to beat Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe. If either Whanagaroa or Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe win it will force a count back as potentially three teams will be tied for two spots.
In the South, we have three teams all contesting for two spots. Defending champions WBHS will play Dargaville High School who trailing by 1 point. The winner of this game will cement their place in the semi final. In the other game, we have the inform Kamo high school who are undefeated and drew with WBHS take on new incumbents Bream bay. If Kamo lose it will force a count back with 3 teams tied for first place.
Players to watch this week:
Whangarei Boys High School (WBHS) v Dargaville High School (DHS)
For WBHS you have the barn storming prop Wiremu Grieg who is strong with the ball in hand. Look for Terrence Riini and Ngatai Manukau-Togivalu to be the enforcers on defence whilst Jayden Laupepe will direct play.
Dargaville at full strength will be a handful with Rico Cook and Thomas Anderson always hard to contain. Hoani Rogers-Brown will be strong in the centres with good ball distribution from halve Lathan Hutchinson-Walters.
Kamo High School v Bream Bay College:
This well coached team like to run a lot of shape and constantly ask questions of the opposing teams defence. Meter eater Ariki Hughes running off captain consistent James Witehera will be hard to stop. Adding to the attacking prowess will be standout second row Manasseh Turner with his blinding speed and strong fend.
Bream Bay, the new team to the competition had a solid win last week and will be led well by young and upcoming forwards Nokisi Kaiarake and Terry-Jack Smart. They will also have some attacking options with Taine-Lee Shelford who comes from good rugby league stock
Kaitaia College v Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe:
Kaitaia are the inform team in the North and have been together now for over 3 years. Coach Jim Larkin has stated that this is their year. They will have some muscle up front with Jackson Sparks-Brott and will be strong in the kick returns with TeKahi Nathan.
TKKMK are a young side but they too have some strike power. Asi Tau-Kata will be hard to take down and loves to make his presence felt in defence. Ngaphui Simeon is one of the inform fullbacks, so look for a strong contest from him in attack and defence being a very quick and agile runner he will look to link on the fringes.
Northland College v Whangaroa College:
Northland College are undefeated and possess a potent prop combination with the Henare-Clarke twins. Look for John and Phoenix to have their own brother battle in terms of meters gained and tackle busts. They also have Tamati Leach who is a very big mobile player capable of ripping holes in the defence with his power and speed. They will be directed around the park by Taite Kopa who likes to test the line and draw in pass.
Whangaroa will always give it 100%. They have talent in hooker Royce Sanderson who is mobile and strong in defence. While Troy Hughes has a lot of pace out wide and can attack strongly in open play.
Adam Blair XIII v NZ Warriors
This Saturday will see the best Secondary School players from all over Northland take on the best 18s side in the country, the NZ Warriors 18s.
The Adam Blair Trophy has this year been the most successful with 15 High Schools participating in a 13 team strong competition. A week before we approach the Semi-Finals, our best players, who make up the Adam Blair XIII, will face the might of New Zealand’s best at Kamo High School at 1pm.
Rugby League Northland are privileged to have a strong relationship with the Warriors as well as several other NRL clubs and are really working on developing pathways for junior elite players. Development Manager Aaron Thomas is delighted with the interest the NRL are taking specifically in the North.
“We have worked hard in 2015 to build our junior program and it’s starting to pay dividends. We had several players last year take up junior contracts with NRL clubs and we have several more stimulating interest. It’s a massive lift for what we are trying to do here. We are in most primary schools and high schools in the north lifting our profile and promoting our code. We had over 3000 students participate in Rugby League last year.”
“It’s really exciting this year, as we are really committed to Professional Development. This is not only for our elite players, but also for our coaches and referees. This is integral for our on-going success. The Warriors, who are coached by Duane Mann, ex Kiwi and Warrior player, are very lucky to have someone of his calibre taking an interest in our young talent.”
Rugby League Northland is hoping for a good crowd on Saturday, which will also see a North v South High School Girls 9s game. The game will be televised and also available through YouTube by Channel North who have done an outstanding job covering the Adam Blair XIII games.
Northern Swords Adam Blair XIII
- Diani Timms 2. Tahu Tawhiwhirangi 3. Ngapuhi Simeon 4. Hoani Rogers-Brown 5.Tanie-lee Shelford 6. Jayden Leaupepe 7. Taite Kopa 8. John Henare-Clarke 9. James Witehira (Captain) 10. Wiremu Greig 11. Tamati Leach 12. Thomas Anderson 13. Osalasi Tau-Kata 14. Ilai Arona 15. Ariki Hughes 16. Phoenix Henare-Clarke 17. Manasseh Turner 18. Rico Cook 19. Hakaraia Corkery 20. Nico Te Whata 21. Lathan Hutchinson-Walters 22. Ngatai Manukau Togiavalu 23. Donald McKenna 24. Manaia Te Pirihi
After the rains earlier in the day the Secondary Schools Rugby League match in the top of table clash for the Adam Blair Trophy between Whangarei Boys High and Kamo College was played out in the hot afternoon sun at the Boys High ground. A fast and furious start by the hosts saw two early tries and dominant field position before Kamo rallied its defensive attitude to counter the strong and often wide ranging attacks from a determined Boys High forward pack. Winning some ball of their own Kamo staged their own challenge in the middle with prop Ariki Hughes leading the charge with powerful running and honest lines to draw the opposition defenders and score some tries of their own. By the end of the first half the try count was three to two to the hosts and score line of 16 -12.
The first half effort and heat took its toll and as an arm wrestle ensued between these two evenly matched sides. Kamo High’s defence stayed resolute across the field as Boys High failed to cross the line in the second half even after wide passes by the hosts found their flying winger Matthew Harrison. A penalty goal mid-second half extended the Boy’s high score line to a converted try difference and both sides continued to battle before Kamo scored and captain James Witehira converting to level the score. Intensity escalated as the clock was running down and mistakes saw the ball change hands at critical times and no further points scored with the exciting fast paced match finishing 18 all.
The result pegs both teams on top of the table at 7 competitions points each with Whangarei Boys High ahead on points differential. The draw also allows Dargaville High to close in on the leaders after their 48 – 24 win over newcomers Te Kapehu Whetu yesterday and are now sitting on 6 competition points with Bay of Islands College but in third place due to their points differential. Other results were Bay of Islands College 40 – 8 Tikipunga HS, Northland College 42 – 26 Okaihau College, TKKM/Taipa 36 – 32 Abundant Life. Broadwood Area School defaulted to Kaitaia College and Bream Bay and Whangaroa College had the byes.
2016 Adam Blair 1st XIII Wider Training Squad Named2016 Adam Blair 1st XIII Wider Training Squad Named
Click Here to read the Adam Blair XIII Wider Training squad
Congratulations to the Boys who have been selected to be part of the train on squad to play for the Adam Blair 1st XIII vs The NZ Warriors on Saturday 26th March.
The first training will be at Bay of Islands College on Saturday the 12th March at 10am.
You will need to bring:
- your boots
- league jersey
The final squad of 22 players will be named the week leading up to the game.
This is a fantastic opportunity as there will be NRL selectors present.