Two touches of class from Matt Pinkerton provided Tauranga Boys' College (TBC) with an opening win in the Rankin Cup national secondary schools hockey championships.
Boys' college beat Lindisfarne College of Hawkes Bay 2-0 in Pool H before playing Rosmini of Auckland last night.
Pinkerton's first goal came after a high ball was flicked through from near halfway by his captain Connor Garner.
Pinkerton controlled it beautifully on the baseline and even though it touched the umpire, he had the presence of mind to dribble it across in front of goal and score with a brilliant reverse shot to the stick side of the Lindisfarne goalkeeper.
"That's why you love having a Matt Pinkerton in your team," coach Stephen Graham said afterwards.
"A lot of players, if it comes off an umpire, would stand there and freeze for a bit. Obviously he knows the rule pretty well."
Pinkerton's second goal also owed a good deal to his individual skills, controlling the ball inside the circle and shooting along the ground under the flailing Lindisfarne keeper Jay Rerekura.
Those goals came at the eight and 20 minute marks of the second half, but there had been some nervous moments for Tauranga not long beforehand.
After an indecisive first half, Tauranga were under serious pressure early in the second period. Lindisfarne, after some strong work from Samuel Porter-Samuels, drew three penalty corners in the space of five minutes but couldn't score from any of them.
Tauranga keeper William Gourley was especially heroic in saving the third as he quickly made himself horizontal to block the shot.
"I think William is one of the best keepers in his age group so to have him at the school is awesome" says Graham, himself capped 26 times as the Black Sticks keeper.
The coach was naturally delighted with the final outcome as he thinks his team's pool is particularly even.
"Every game matters because we could end up in a situation where placings in the pool depend on goal difference. So to get that two goal differential is really pleasing for us."
Tauranga Boys' hope to improve on their eighth place at last year's Rankin Cup.
The they have ever done was 15 years ago when they finished third with a team that included future Black Sticks Andy Haywood and Graham himself.
Their final pool match is back on home turf at Boys College today at 1.20pm.
TBC are in Pool H and their first playoff games will be against a team from Pool A.
That pool includes defending Rankin Cup champions, Christs College of Christchurch.