The Imperial Trading Otumoetai Eels Premiers demolished Turangawaewae 46-10 in Ngaruawahia in their final round-robin match to book a first round playoff match against second top qualifier Hamilton City Tigers this Saturday at Resthills Park in Hamilton.
With the Eels needing to win by at least three points to finish third top qualifier, it was obvious from kickoff there was only one team was going to win this game, with the Eels forwards and backs combining with power and precision to wrack up their biggest winning margin of the season.
For the Eels, fullback Lance Rolleston was once again the standout back and won player of the day, while big prop Tarquin Court, along with second rower Kere Thompson, were in the thick of the collisions. The Eels' run into the playoffs has set them up for a humdinger against the Tigers, who have been the champions the past three years.
In other premier matches, Taniwharau belted Hukanui 30-4 and City Tigers defeated Hamilton Hornets 46-10. This week's playoffs see Taniwharau sitting out the weekend as top qualifiers, Tigers host the Eels and Ngaruawahia take on Hukanui in their sudden death match.
International age grades
At Puketawhero Park, Rotorua, New South Wales brought their elite under-16 and under-18 teams over to play Waicoabay (Waikato-Coastline-BOP) representatives. Both the NSW sides were too classy and slick, the under-16s winning 30-8 and under-18s defeating Waicoabay 40-22.
Both games had a high level of intensity and quality and it showed the level that these Waicoabay players have to step up to if they want to aspire to making it to the NRL. BoP's Tony Matauitia was the best of the Waicoabay players.
In the under-18 game, the score was quite flattering to NSW, as the Waicoabay team really took it to their opposition with Pikiao's half Te Toi Tahuriorangi, Otumoetai Eels premiers second rower Baiden Sommerville and Reporoa's prop Matt Carson putting in huge metres around the field.
North Island Districts age grade tournament
Today and tomorrow many teams are travelling to compete in the North Island Under-15 and Under-17 districts tournament in Rotorua, including our Coastline district.
Otumoetai Eels are represented by 16 players in the under-15s and 12 in the under-17s, so this is the opportunity for them against the best in New Zealand.
Bailey Nicholas, prop and highest Eels under-15 try scorer this season, Hans Amoroa, former 2012 Brisbane Broncos under-14 development player, Ere Smallman, Xavier Ormsby, Luke Cairns-Nelson, Logan Teao and Kereama Kiwi have been attending the elite camps administered by NZRL, which should set them up for huge efforts in the Coastline under-17s.