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The Under 15 Sevens Tournament Report

The weather at Sacred Heart College Auckland was typical scorching sevens weather.  The HBHS Under 15 Sevens squad had been through some tough training sessions, mentally and physically, and was eager to get going and show off what they’ve learnt on the big stage. 

Manukura school was their first opponent.  Usually, in a Sevens Tournament, the first game is always the toughest.  However, the boys showed great prowess and understanding and got off to a confident start, winning the game 26 - 0.  The boys then went on to beat Pukekohe High School and Francis Douglas 30 - 7 and 36 - 5, respectively.  However, the score line didn’t reflect the grit and heart behind both games, with the team spending the majority of the first half in defence.  Fine tuning and an exchange of words during half time regrouped the boys.  The day ended with HBHS being top of the table, entering the Cup finals yet again. 

After some good grub and a good night’s rest, the boys were ready to take on the challenge of winning the tournament for the first time. Conditions drastically changed from the day before, with it being overcast and gusty wind blowing throughout all the pitches. This didn’t faze the boys, if anything, they were relieved as they didn’t need to worry too much about sunscreen as some of them already had horrendous tan lines. 

Sacred Heart, the hosts, were the first game for day two.  As expected, the first game of the day was full of mistakes from both sides. However, the boys managed to pull through and win 10 - 7, with some help from the Senior Premier Sevens squad cheering them on.  They then went on to face Kings, who had powerful players. But the boys stuck to what they knew and played to their strengths, and were rewarded with a convincing 31 - 7 win. 

The next game, the final, was against old foe Rotorua. 

There was just under three hours between the semi-final and the final.  The squad took full advantage of the location and went for a dip in Mission Bay.  After a dip and shower, the boys were refreshed and ready to go for the final they’d been looking forward to since they started their Sevens journey in 2018. 

Understandably, there were nerves and anxiety for all the players and the coaches.  However, as the warm up progressed, that all turned to excitement.  The boys were pumped to go out on the big stage and express themselves.

Possession is key in any sevens game, and the boys did exactly that in the first half, with Taha Kemara scoring the first try under the posts making it 7 - 0.  However, the second half was a different story, as Rotorua Boys’ capitalised on the lack of support in the middle of the defensive line and made it 7 - 7.  The boys regrouped and learnt from the mistake.  The game progressed to the final play and HBHS was in possession.  Gaining momentum with some individual brilliance and support, Ethan Westgate collected an offload on the left side of the pitch.  Sprinting for the corner, with a Rotorua sweeper chasing him down.  Just over the five-metre line, Ethan dived for the corner to finish off the game.  Unfortunately, the sweeper managed to get a hand on him and dislodged the ball. 

Knock on, extra time, golden try. 

It was HBHS to kick off.  We needed the possession back fast, otherwise the game would run away from us. The kick-off was made, and was nice and high enough to pressurise the catch.  The boys chased hard and won the scrum just inside their 22m.  After stringing a few phases together, Rotorua kept making penalty offences. Another penalty, 10m out, just right of the right goal-post.  Luke Ale tapped the ball, got his head down and bulldozed towards the white line, beating two players, to score the tournament-winning try. 

It was a wonderful effort from the boys, making history, putting the HBHS seal on the Under 15 Condor Sevens.  We wish a speedy recovery to Rylee Paekau with an ACL injury and Kahn Caddy with a fractured collar bone and an AC joint injury.  Both injuries were sustained in the final.  

By Mr Takuya Osaki

Co-Coach of the National Champion Under 15 Sevens side

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