News,Northern Swords,Northern Swords Premiers Final Second Thriller Ends Swords Dreams

Final Second Thriller Ends Swords Dreams

Final Second Thriller Ends Swords Dreams post thumbnail image

IMG_7097 IMG_7051 IMG_6990The Northern Swords almost created the biggest upset in the history of the NZRL National Premiership on Saturday at Lindvart Park, in Kaikohe, as they led 28 – 24 with less than a minute left on the clock.  The Swords were deep into the Orcas half on attack when on 5th and final tackle their attempted drop goal got charged down. Orca winger, Patrick Ahnau was first on the scene from the charge down toeing it ahead to commence a footrace with the Swords covering defence. He was fortunate that the ball popped up cleanly into his hands 5 metres away from the try line to score under the posts as the Swords defence tried desperately to hold him up.  Orca’s standoff, Bronson Marino, calmly slotted the 2 points to snatch victory 30 – 28.

In the Swords 5 years in the competition, this was by far their best ever performance.  Wellington are a force in this competition, coming into the game with a record of 1 draw, 1 win and a loss.  Their draw was against the might of the Akarana Falcons.  But it was the Swords who led and controlled the game for all but the final minute.  The Swords were the first on the scoreboard when barnstorming Prop Eli George smashed his way over the try line in the opening 5 minutes.  The opening try installing a sense of self-belief in Jon Renes’ troop of young guns.

Going into half time with a 14 – 8 lead the expectation of the healthy crowd was that Wellington would come out in the second half and dominate, but when inspirational half, Kyle Hool, dazzled everyone with a scintillating 40 metre try to take the Swords to a 20 – 8 the crowd and the Young Swords lifted to another level.  The second half was of a very high standard with both teams lifting their intensity in the collision.

When Penrith bound Caleb Aekins, playing in his debut Swords Premiers game, created something from broken play and outpaced the Orcas defence from 60 metres out to take a 28 – 14 lead with 15 minutes left on the clock, it looked like the unlikely would happen and a major upset was on the cards.

However, Wellington then upped their level and started running with conviction exposing a tiring Swords outfit.  Firstly, winger David Saumolia, squeezed his way over the try line in the far corner with a classic NRL wingers try, dotting the ball down as he was bundled into touch, this act inspired his team mates.  From the kick off the Orcas marched 80 metres for Joseph Oti to score on the opposite flank.  The Swords found another level again and looked as if they were going to shut out the game until the bounce of the ball went Patrick Ahnau’s way.

The Swords young team should take nothing but positive from the game, their defence line worked solidly together for the entire 80 minutes and they played out their sets with patience and control.  18 year old Caleb Aekins, playing at Centre, was outstanding with the ball in hand and his cool temperament on defence ensured a solid edge defence for the Swords.   Another two of the Swords 18 year olds Stevie Ray Haenga-Albert and Kawana Marsden also had standout performances.  Stevie Ray, playing at hooker, was solid defensively in the middle of the ruck and made a number of confident darts from dummy half.  Kawana, playing at Prop, rattled the big Orcas time after time on defence and with the ball in hand.  Unfortunately for the Swords he played no part in the last 40 minutes after he suffered a wrist injury.

The Sword pack looked solid, with Eli George and Jordan Hool having big games.  The halves pairing of Brodie Palmer and Kylie Hool looked slick giving plenty of space and time to outside backs Anaru Thompson and Jayden Bentley-Hape who both had great games.

With Coach Jon Renes building a positive culture, the Swords will travel down to Rotorua to take on the high flying Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions this Saturday. The Stallions have won three out of four in the competition with their only defeat to top of the table the Canterbury Bulls.  They defeated Akarana in the weekend 28 – 26.

Wellington Orcas 30 (Axton Daniels, David Saumolia, Ulai Oti, Joseph Oti, Patrick Ahnau & Michael O’Brien tries; Bronson Marino 3 goals) Northern Swords 28 (Israel Tahere, Caleb Aekins, Anaru Thompson, Daniel Fulop, Kyle Hool & Eli George tries; Fulop 2 goals); HT: 8-14

Click here to view a selection of photographs from the game.

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Spy on the Bank Receives National RecognitionSpy on the Bank Receives National Recognition

Graham Pitts Photo courtesy of Northern Advocate

Graham Pitts
Photo courtesy of Northern Advocate

Northland Rugby League, Life Member, Graham Pitts has received National recognition in the form of an NZRL Distinguished Service Award.  The Award was announced on Monday at the NZRL AGM.  Mr Pitts may be better known in Northland as the “Spy on Bank.” Writing a weekly article in the Northern Advocate about his observations of what was happening on the field at Jubilee Park.  Mr Pitts, who said he started the column on the request of the Northern Advocate Editor after he complained about the lack of publicity of Rugby league in the paper, “I did it because of my love of the game, I never received a cracker for my work, not even a free paper!”

Mr Pitts has been involved with Rugby League in Northland for over 67 years, he started with the now defunct West End Jumbos in 1949 and a junior player.  “I’ve pretty much done everything there is to do with Rugby League,” he said.  Some of his many accolades include being a Northland Board member for over 35 years, starting in the late 60s through to 2005.  He has been Director of Coaches, Referee Appointee, Secretary as well as a long serving judicial member.

When asked how he felt about receiving the recognition, Mr Pitts was a little lost for words, “It’s still sinking in, it swept me off my feet a little, but I’m really chuffed and satisfied that I am getting recognition.” He said.  When asked about his thoughts on the current state of affairs Mr Pitts was complimentary, “Things are going well, Rugby League Northland has come a long way in the last couple of years, ever since they started working in schools.”

RLN General Manager, Alex Smits, commended Mr Pitts’ service to the game, “Anyone who serves the game for over 30 years on a Board deserves the Victoria Cross for bravery!  But in all seriousness, to receive an accolade like this is a great reflection of Graham’s dedication, they don’t just hand these out to anyone.”  Smits said.

“One thing about Mr Pitts is he a real historian of the game, his father kept a scrapbook which he then carried on.  As we are a new organisation one thing I want to be able to achieve is to compile a history of League in Northland,  there is a lot to be proud of as Northlanders,  I have been talking with Graham and he is quite keen to help us in the this process.”  Smits said.

Mr Pitts will receive his award personally next year at the NZRL Annual Awards ceremony which will coincide with the next edition of the NRL 9s in Auckland.

Northern Swords – 15s and 17s Performance CampsNorthern Swords – 15s and 17s Performance Camps

The selections for the 15s and 17s Northern Swords camps have been done, with invitations going out to players this week.

This is a great opportunity for our players to develop not only as a player, but as a person to achieve long-term career goals.  The Northern Swords will help players on a pathway and prepare them for a future in sport or any other chosen profession.

As a member of the Swords training squad, players will be competing for a place in a 25 man squad that will be finalised in August. Selections in the final squad will not only be based on football skill, but also on players commitment to training, their work ethic and teamwork. Playing for the Swords is a massive commitment, with the requirement for players to attend all training sessions which could involve extensive travel across Northland.

But the rewards are huge and the players will be playing against the best League players in New Zealand for their ages. It will only take one good game to be noticed either by an NRL Scout or by a Kiwi age grade selector.

Below is documentation for event dates, forms, costs and team policy.

15s – Performance Camp Squad

15’s Performance Camp Information


17s – Performance Camp Squad

17’s Performance Camp Information