Secondary Schools brace for tough regional semifinals
25 Aug 2017
Secondary schools brace for tough regional semifinals
Two Taranaki schools will take their first step towards earning a place at the National Top Four first XV rugby championship when they host Chiefs region semifinals this weekend.
The New Plymouth Boys’ High School first XV takes on Rotorua Boys’ High School in the boys’ school semifinals at the Gully Ground at 12pm on Saturday, while around the coast at 11am, the Opunake High School first XV hosts St Peter’s Cambridge in the co-ed school semifinals.
Should the Taranaki teams win on Saturday, they will play in respective Chiefs region finals on Saturday, 2 September.
The Chiefs region champions, along with the winners from the Blues, Hurricanes and South Island regions, go on to play at the National Top Four first XV championship in Palmerston North on 8-10 September.
New Plymouth Boys’ High School beat Francis Douglas Memorial College in their annual fixture to earn their spot in Saturday’s Chiefs region semifinal. They will meet a strong Rotorua Boys’ High School side, who were national champions in 2015 and this year won the pre-season Chiefs Cup secondary schools competition.
NPBHS are a young team, but co-coach Sam Moore said they would look to use their energy and enthusiasm to their advantage and take the game to Rotorua Boys’.
“No doubt we’re the underdogs and we are going to have to play very well across the board to win,” he said. “But it’s an exciting chance to play at home in front of our parents and supporters. The team has trained really well and are looking forward it.
“Rotorua have a strong rugby programme and are a good side with real class out wide and a good abrasive forward pack. We’ll look to get good quality ball up front and play hard for each other.”
NPBHS are coached by Moore, Johnny Weston and Max Maaka, and managed by Kayne Dunlop.
It has been a fairytale season for the Opunake High School XV, who won the Taranaki secondary schools premier A competition when beating Hawera High School in the final.
That title win, which was their first since 2005, earned them the right to represent Taranaki co-ed schools in the Chiefs region semifinals and take on St Peter’s Cambridge.
Opunake High School rugby coordinator David Hughes said St Peter’s were a well-resourced and much larger school than Opunake High School, but that was part of the challenge of playing at a higher level of rugby.
“We’ve had a great season and we’re stoked to get an opportunity to play against a tough team from another region,” Hughes said.
“Playing in the Central North Island competition, St Peter’s come up against strong teams week in, week out, so they will be very tough and it’s going to be a huge challenge. But the boys are excited and we are confident they will put in a good performance and will hold their heads high.”
Opunake have suffered some disruption ahead of this weekend’s game with five regular players ineligible because they are no longer at high school. The Taranaki secondary schools competition allows for the inclusion of under-19 players who are not at school, however the national competition does not.
“It weakens us a bit, but we’ve still got a lot of talent across the field. We’ve got big skilful forwards, and quick and skilful outside backs,” Hughes said. “Our defence in the final against Hawera was outstanding, so if we keep that standard up we are in with a good shot.”
Opunake High School are coached by Michael Jones and Mark Davis, and managed by Simon Reid.
- TRFU Media Release