Northern Swords 17s – Got a Trade Got It Made – NZRL National Youth Tournament

IMG_0648 Swords 17s - winners over Mid-Central IMG_0662 IMG_0672

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the field for the Swords 17s, the tournament was a big come-down from the highs of 2013, when the boys finished 3rd.  The 17s struggled from day one, when they suffered a heavy defeat to the Auckland Invitational side 68 – 12.  In what would become the story of the tournament they were competitive for the first 15 – 20 minutes, until the Auckland sides superior size and power broke the Swords back, and with League once a team’s tail is lifted, it’s hard to stop the momentum of the opposition, with them running rampant to pile on points.  The Swords then lost 50 – 4 to Akarana and then 28 – 6 to Mid Central, to close out pool play.  This saw them play Wai-Coa-Bay in the cross-over game where they lost 46 – 4, decimated by injury, finishing the game with only 12 players.

As fate had it, saw them play off for the Wooden Spoon against Mid Central Vipers, who had earlier defeated them 28 – 6.  However after an inspirational pre-match speech from Coach Benson Selwyn, the Swords rose from the grave to put on their performance of the tournament to defeat the Vipers 28 – 12.  Coach Selwyn was humbled by the performance, “We did it tough this week, we suffered some key injuries, the boys could have given up but they didn’t, it goes to show that they have a big Northland heart and showed their pride in the Jersey.”

For the 17s stand out players were captain courageous and standoff Caleb Aekins, halfback Stevie Ray Haenga-Albert, fullback Duncan McIvor and second row Kawana Marsden.

Trainer Willie Dickson won the trainer of the tournament award for the 17s showing recognition to work he did on the field and off the field to ensure that they had a team to play each day.

The Akarana Falcons were the winners of the 17s grade winning 20 – 14 over Counties Manukau Stingrays.