The agony and the ecstasy of playoffs time hit the NZCT AIMS Games today, with a flurry of finals in Tauranga.
With 7500 Year 7 and 8 athletes in town for the week-long intermediate-aged sporting showcase, highs and lows were dished out in equal measure.
The first of the big finals saw St Peters College crowned rugby sevens champions, overpowering a plucky Hawera Intermediate side 17-7 in an absorbing final.
Boasting three members of the Auckland West Roller Mills team – captain Malipolo Manuka, Trentham Peterson and Riaihe Jacobs – St Peters scored two first-half tries and added another in the second spell to complete an unbeaten tournament.
“The boys tried really hard through the week and prepared well for the tournament,” Manuka said. “Fitness was the key – this is sevens, not 15s, and you’ve got to get around the field. We’re not here for individual goals – we’re here as a team and the boys showed how sweet it could be winning as a team too.”
Judda Turahui scored for the Taranaki side late in the game after William Guthrie put a kick through but it came too late to pull back the Auckland team.
Wesley Intermediate overcame defending champions Royal Oak in the final of the girls sevens.
Katikati College squash player Glenn Templeton took out the boys division with a 15-9 15-9 15-7 win over Leo Fatialofa (Liston College), adding to a list of wins this year which includes the North and South Island under-13 championships. The C1-grader was also fourth in the Oceania titles.
Even Templeton’s efforts weren’t as dominant as Fairfield Intermediate’s Anika Jackson in the girls division, however. Still only 12 but with an extraordinary B1 grade, Jackson was the runner-up in the Oceania championships and had no problems disposing of Annaleise Faint (Palmerston North) 15-2 15-2 15-10 in the final.
“It’s great to come and play with people my own age because I’m always playing against older people these days,” Jackson said. “This is my second time at the AIMS Games and I’ve met lots of other people and I’ve loved it.”
She also paired with Hayley Carson to win the teams division, while Kobe Fleming and Campbell Webster won the boys teams for Hutt International.
It wasn’t just the finals creating excitement, however. Tauranga Intermediate’s boys hockey team had a thrilling 2-1 penalty shoot-out win over Taradale in their semifinal, with Tauranga goalie Callum Owen making the vital final save. After only finishing 17th last year, Tauranga will play Kamo Intermediate in tomorrow’s final after the Northland side also won on strokes, 3-2, over Auckland’s Pinehurst School after they were locked 2-all at full-time.
Otumoetai will try to dethrone defending champions St Cuthberts in the girls final, meanwhile, after beating Havelock North 2-1, although St Cuthbert’s 4-0 semifinal win over Palmerston North looked ominous for the Tauranga team.
Auckland Normal Intermediate and Northcross Intermediate will square off in tomorrow’s football final after big semifinal wins today.
Auckland Normal, after scoring in the first 15secs of the match, eased to a 5-2 win over St Kentigern College in one semifinal, while Northcross were even more dominant, slamming five unanswered goals past Hutt International in the other semi.
The Auckland Normal girls team completed a great day for the school, beating Otumoetai in their semifinal, booking a spot to play Murrays Bay in tomorrow’s final after they beat Berkley Normal Middle School in a penalty shootout.
The netball ranks have thrown up some semifinal surprise packages tomorrow, with Glen Eden, fifth last year, playing former Silver Fern Tania Dalton’s Carmel College team, making their first appearance.
Hastings Intermediate have also reached the top-four for the first time, having finished 11th last year, and they’ll line up Murrays Bay Intermediate for a spot in the final.