It was only a first-round match and not in the championship proper but there was more than usual interest in schoolboy league when Auckland Grammar went head to head with Winton's Central Southland College on the opening day of the NZ SS tournament at Bruce Pulman Park.
Among those on the sideline were Sir Peter Leitch, New Zealand Rugby League chairman Scott Carter and AGS headmaster John Morris.
The match, in the development section of the tournament, had added interest with Auckland Grammar's first foray at this level and in the visitors who had made the longest journey to take part.
For many of the southern players the trip to Auckland was their first venture outside the South Island. For six it was a famous first in just getting to Papakura as they experienced air travel for the first time.
Physically it was quickly apparent AGS would be too strong, and so it proved as they raced to a 32-0 halftime lead which stretched to 54-0 by the final whistle.
Standouts for AGS were fullback Joshua Minhinnick and stand-off Renata Roberts-Tenana.
To their credit, the Southlanders were far from despondent.
In a quick quip at the end of the game Central Southland coach Jonathan Bringings said the temperature in Auckland had thrown his squad. "The boys aren't used to these cold conditions," he joked.
Auckland Grammar failed to make it two from two when beaten 22-20 by Tamaki College in yesterday's second round.
In other big-scoring affairs on opening day in the development competition, Tamaki College beat Fraser High 60-0 and St John's College beat Kamo High 28-4.
The tournament continues until Friday when the premiership and development grade finals will be played.
The Rangitoto College girls head into the first day of the A/AA premierships, zone one, competition at Trusts Stadium today as the warmest of favourites.
Winners of the recent Auckland premier championship - beating MAGS 71-42 in the final after an 81-51 semifinal triumph over WGHS - Rangitoto will almost certainly head the Auckland qualifiers for next month's National SS championships in Nelson.
The win over MAGS in the local final capped another good season for Rangitoto, who made it two in a row but, with a number of Y13 girls in this year's team, they could find a three-peat a lot harder. Team members Brooke Blair and Penina Davidson are in the Junior Tall Ferns and Ella Fotu is in the Emerging Tall Ferns. Davidson was the MVP in the premier final.
While the girls grabbed the spotlight, the boys were not far behind. After being relegated at the end of last season, Rangitoto stormed through the open grade, winning the final and gaining automatic promotion back into next year's premier league.
Led by Denhym Brooke and Harrison Cutfield, who will represent New Zealand in Australia in November as a member of the Emerging Tall Blacks, and with the bulk of the team in Y11 along with some Y10 and Y12 players, Rangitoto won the open grade final at the Greater Auckland Championships.
Birkenhead College (girls), Massey High School (mixed) and Long Bay (boys) shared the honours as the Auckland Secondary School titles were decided at Paradice Avondale.
Birkenhead's Eleanor Adviento, Kelsi Heath, Gabrielle PoChing and Eloise Pointon and the Massey Britz mixed team of Matthew Clapson, Tomo Konishi, Jordan Brown and Anna Mullin both won their semifinals to set up the overall championship final, won convincingly 21-1 by Birkenhead.
In the play-off, another Massey mixed team of Sophie Prebble, Mort Heavan and Lisa Mattson led Long Bay's Garion Long, Tamara Long, Matt Hohaia, Alex Martin and Ben Frew 4-2 coming in to the final end. Long Bay came up just short, allowing Massey to claim third overall.
The plate final was won by Avondale College over EGGS Team Claire, after securing second place in their boys' and girls' championships respectively. Henderson High mixed had a walkover against Epsom Team Macauley in the plate consolation.
Making the most of local knowledge, Whangarei BHS edged Christchurch's St Bedes College by five strokes to win the NZ SS final in difficult conditions at the Waipu Golf Club.
The final was reduced to 18 holes after heavy rain and buffeting winds had left organisers with no option but to can the planned morning round.
Whangarei BHS, representing Northland, wasted no time in showing out as the team to beat in a championship to be decided on the best three of four scores.
After nine holes, Whangarei BHS had a two-shot lead over Otago representative Wakatipu High School with St Bedes a shot back in third.
Heading home, the locals built on their advantage with captain Chase McKeown (74), Luke Brown (73) and Sean Masters (74) combining for the best three scores and a five-over-par total. Kadin Neho carded a 75 for a consistent team performance.
"I am pretty proud of the boys," said McKeown after accepting the trophy. "We hung tough out there and stayed calm even with the rain delay this morning. We went well when we got to play.
"We are pretty proud to have it at our home club, we trained pretty hard to achieve this with our coach Quenton Diment every Tuesday afternoon. We were really looking forward to this event."
McKeown said Diment was a big part of this success.
"He is doing a great job. He coaches all four of us and his help gave us a lot of confidence so we want to thank him and enjoy this with him."
New Zealand Golf manager Phil Aickin, who ran the event, was impressed by the Whangarei effort.
"The locals showed that they are going to be very competitive going in to the Age Group Championship."
Tasman representative Ryan Chisnall (Waimea College) and a member of the Srixon Development Squad shot the round of the day with a two-under-par 70 in trying conditions.
Most of the players will be back in action today on the first day of the three-day, 54-hole New Zealand Under-19 Championship.
Paige Paterson parked her bike, grabbed her hockey stick and helped St Cuthberts beat Rangitoto 2-0 in the inter-city grade one final.
Goals to Su Arn Kwek and Paterson got St Cuthberts home in a hard-fought, entertaining final.
Paterson, just back from her double-medal haul at the UCI World Junior Track Championships in Invercargill won a New Zealand Herald Future Stars award earlier this year.
Hamilton BHS will represent the Chiefs region at this week's national top-four championship in Rotorua.
After leading Wesley College 8-3 at halftime, visiting Hamilton BHS went on to win 14-9 after an excellent, physical contest.
Hamilton produced a huge defensive effort throughout the match to keep Wesley's big-running forwards try-less.
Hamilton's livewire halfback Ben Finau scored the only try of the match midway through the first spell, when he chipped a kick behind the Wesley defences, then regained possession and sprinted away to score in the corner.
At the top-four contest Hamilton will play St Kentigern in one semifinal and Otago BHS meet Napier BHS in the other first-round (semifinal) match.
The first-round winners will face each other in the September 15 final at the northern winner's school. All three matches will be televised by Sky's Rugby Channel.
In the Chiefs region co-ed schools final, Cambridge High beat Manurewa High 26-12. Cambridge will now represent the region in the Co-ed top-four semifinal playoffs in Rotorua.
It may not be regarded by some as a mainstream sport but by taking to heart the low participation rate in secondary school sport in their region, Sport Waitakere asked the students what they wanted.
The response? Skateboarding. And, just as quickly, an inaugural interschool competition eventuated.
Held in Henderson's Te Pai Place on Saturday, the event attracted more than 30 competitors from Rutherford College, Waitakere College, Green Bay High, Massey High, Henderson High and Liston College.
Jacob Turner (Massey HS) claimed individual honours, Green Bay's Xanthe Brooks the girls' title and Massey High School the overall team trophy.
Sport Waitakere contracted pro skaters Adam Wharekura and Simon Thorp of Auckland Skate Schools to give six weeks' coaching in the schools as a lead-up to the Waitakere Inter-School Skateboard Competition.
Gabrielle Gofton, child and youth adviser at Sport Waitakere, hopes schools will continue the coaching sessions and that the competition will be an annual event.
"The students that are participating in skateboarding are generally students that don't participate in other sports and it is great that the schools are catering to the needs of all students" said Gofton. "The feedback from students and parents has been fantastic and by giving skateboarding some structure in the school environment, it helps to legitimise skateboarding and improve its image."
St Peters, convincing winners of the senior A1 championship, have jumped straight back into next season's premier league, replacing Takapuna Grammar who are relegated as the bottom-placed premier school.
Kings still have the chance to get back into the premier but will need to beat Rangitoto to do it.
Papatoetoe High, comfortable A2 winners, will go into senior A1 next year in place of Northcote College while Glendowie College will have to beat Long Bay College to hold their place.
Pakuranga College have won promotion to A2 as winners of A3 while Avondale, who edged Whangaparaoa College, could join them if they can beat Glenfield College.
Waitakere drop from A2 to A3. Western Springs, winners of the A4 competition, will move up at Waitakere's expense. Sancta Maria drop from A3 to A4. Massey face Albany Senior High in the playoff.
All playoff matches will be played next year.
YOUNG SPORTSPERSON AWARDS
Nominations for the ASB Young Sportsperson of the Year Awards close with ASB College Sport on September 19. The winners in the sports categories and the overall winners will be announced at the annual dinner on November 22.By Terry Maddaford Email Terry