Last Friday night, Kamo High School defeated the odds, to be crowned NABT 2014 Champions in a final that demonstrated that Secondary School Rugby League is alive and well in Northland. Standing in Kamo’s way were the favoured Whangarei Boys High School. High had amassed a whopping 190 point differential through the 2014 NABT competition and had won the coveted Tohunga 2 times out of three, plus they had won their earlier encounter with Kamo 38 – 16 to rightly be favourites.
BUT as they say, Finals football is a different game altogether. In front of a healthy and vibrant crowd under lights, Kamo High school were able to deal with the pressure of the event more than Boys High. The first half was a tight encounter with both teams going into half time at 4 points a-piece after tries from Kamo’s Brandt Shortland and WBHS’s Shane Paraha.
Kamo came out in the second half with a true belief that they could go one better than the 2013 Kamo High School team that lost in the dying minutes to Kaitaia. First centre Cole Lundon-Tonga retrieved a wayward bomb to scurry over in the corner, then Lyse Haretuku finished an impressive back line move to score in the corner. Both tries were unconverted with Kamo taking a lead 10 – 4.
Finally Boys High came to life with barnstorming Tiaki Smith smashing his way over near the posts, Caleb Aikens converted to bring the game to 12 – 10. Kamo lead with 15 minutes left on the clock. Kamo Coach, Joe Henare, was rightly nervous as his 2013 team had given up a similar lead, however the Kamo team held firm. Boys High threatened a number of occasions but Kamo defended as if their lives depended on it.
Joe Henare was elated, “This has been three years in the making. When we first started we had a five year plan to develop League at Kamo. I can’t believe the boys heart out there. Reniera Campbell was a man mountain on defence tonight and he deserved to get man of the match” The win was especially pleasing as Kamo had played the entire match with only 13 players – they had two Year 9s on the bench but didn’t use them!
Kamo High School 12; Tries to: Brandt Shortland, Lyse Haretuku, Cole Lundon-Tonga
Whangarei Boys High 10: Tries to: Shane Paraha, Tiaki Smith. Conversion: Caleb Aikens.
Player of the Final: Raniera Campbell.
Tikipunga High School win the Northern Swords Shield
In another entertaining match full of end to end running, Tikipunga High School edged out Bay Of Island College 22 -14 to win the Northern Swords Shield the plate division of the NABT. The game was great advert for Rugby League as it was fiercely contested up the middle with two forward packs not giving an inch. To cap it off both teams had speed to burn out wide.
The 10 all half time score demonstrated the even nature of the game. However Tikipunga High came out with more fire in the belly. With Jack Rangitaawa and John Wright in the halves giving them ability to get the ball out to the impressive fullback Wayne Iripa. Tiki racked up 12 unanswered points in a fifteen minute period.
For the last 15 minutes, Bay of Islands looked on the verge of a comeback, when with 5 minutes left on the clock, Danyon Hati scored. However, man of the Match Chaz Watene, couldn’t convert. Tikipunga held on to win the match 22 – 14.
Alex Smits GM of RLN was ecstatic about the evening’s events. “We had three great games of football tonight* and a big crowd turned out to watch. We now have 10 Colleges that are committed to League and the standard of football is brilliant. You can really tell that the kids are loving their league and it’s played in a fabulous spirit! Congratulations to Kamo – it’s always great to see an upset in a final. I wish Kamo and Boys High the best of luck as they prepare to go the NZSSSC Nationals.”
*Dargaville and Whangaroa drew 28 all in a curtain raiser match that was supposed to be the 3rd and 4th playoff – however Kaitaia College withdrew and Dargaville High took their place.
Finals Standings NABT 2014:
- Kamo High School
- Whangarei Boys High
- Whangaroa College
- Kaitaia College
- Tikipunga High – “Northern Swords Shield Winner”
- Bay of Island College
- Equal – Northland College – Okaihau College
- Brothers (Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, Taipa, Abundant Life)
Dargaville High School