Hamilton Boys' High School's season of dominance in Super Eight rugby ended with a thrilling encounter against Napier Boys' High School.

A last-minute penalty was needed for Hamilton to secure the title, in a rematch of last year's final when the two teams shared the trophy.

HBHS, which has won the title for 11 of the past 13 years, started the stronger of the two sides, turned down two three-pointers in the opening minutes, and was rewarded for its patience when number eight Dion Keogh scored a try in the fifth minute.

Despite the home advantage, it was Napier Boys' High School that took hold of the first half when in the 13th minute Leo Thompson converted a try for the visitors after a determined effort from fullback Max Anderson.


Napier then silenced the home crowd in the 24th minute when Luke Russell scored from a lineout drive.

After a small dip in play, Napier then stunned the crowd again, after a good spell of possession allowed them to score their third try of the game. The conversion was successful, leaving the visitors leading Hamilton 17-5 at the break.

It was a half of dominance for Napier with 79 per cent of possession and 60 per cent of the territory during the first 40.

As so often for Hamilton, however, they did not lie down and within five minutes had pulled the game back within five points.

Again, they had turned down a three pointer attempt and opted for a scrum.
From the set piece move centre Josh Calvert scored and Murray added the conversion to have the hosts trailing 17-12.

Hamilton then bit back again through Leweni Mocekaca, who raced half the length of the pitch to tie up the game in the 46th minute.

A penalty from Demante Murray minutes later had put Hamilton ahead for the first time in the game at 20-17.

The drama kept coming, as Napier regained the lead in the 59th minute when flanker Sam Henderson scored in the corner, putting Napier up 22-20.


As the clock ticked down, and as Napier moved closer to their first Super Eight title since 2003, the final piece of drama unfolded.

After continued pressure from Hamilton, a penalty was awarded and up stepped Demante Murray.

Hamilton Boys' High teachers, students and supporters are no strangers to finals drama.

In 2013, Brynn Gatland famously kicked a drop goal to win the National Top Four title against St Kentigern, which ended the Auckland's team 52 games unbeaten run at the time.

It was now Murray's turn to write himself into the school's history books with a kick that secured Hamilton the Super 8 for the 11th time improving their overall record in the competition to 104 wins in 145 games.

Co-coach Greg Kirkham said that despite being down at half time, the team knew it could still come back.

"The message at halftime was simple, retain the ball and then play our own game. The team responded very well. There was no panic and the two tries that we scored to level the game at 17 all certainly inspired the team."

Even when Napier scored their try to take a 22-20 lead with five minutes to play there was no sign of panic, just a genuine resolve to keep possession and camp down in the Napier 22. And fortunately they infringed and we were awarded the penalty to win 23-22," Mr Kirkham said.

He praised the players for their unbeaten achievement this season, and for putting the team first.

"Very proud of our leadership group within the team ensured that the team kept a level head during the game. To be able to go through the whole of the Super 8 competition and be unbeaten was an outstanding achievement. We have a very special group of players who are not a bunch of superstars but play for each other."