This weekend was full of talent, excitement, passion and pride which showed through with every game. All the teams involved showcased what they have been building all year and also how much they deserved to be in the running for the Top 4 Nationals.
The clash between King's College and St Kentigern College was full of future stars, teamwork and determination as St Kents made a late run and almost stole the title before King's claimed a hard-fought 29-22 win.
Hamilton Boys High School were looked at as taking the easy game against Wesley College, but were "shook" by the boys from Paerata. Wesley College had the drive in them to extend their season. Hamilton Boys were in a fight right to the 70th minute and only just managed a 26-10 win.
Tauranga Boys College also hung on in the end to beat New Plymouth Boys' High School 15-9.
Hastings Boys and Palmerston North will play each other in the Hurricanes final. Hastings Boys were made to work hard in the first half and needed to turn up the tempo in the second half to avoid an upset defeat to St Patrick's College Silverstream. You could call the Palmerston North Boys win over Scots College an upset, but Palmerston North Boys have been slowly building.
Nelson College held on to the end behind a giant forward pack and slick running by the backs and will face Otago Boys.
The Coed Race for each region has its ups and downs in terms of big named teams but we don't always have the most consistent teams go through every year. Rugby is an "on the day performance" game and anyone can win. Rangitoto College have a mountain to climb to make it back to the Coed Top 4, and that mountain is St Kentigern College who are the clear favourites to make it through.
Manurewa High School have played great all year in the North Harbour competition and it is showing. They came away with the win against Cambridge High School but it was a dog fight to the end and both teams were hungry. Manurewa High School will now play Trident High School from Whakatane to see who will go through to the Coed Top 4 for the Chiefs Region.
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Aotea College beat Kapiti College 27-7 and will meet Feilding High School who have been almost every year to the Coed Top 4 since it started so they know what this is all about. Fielding High School have a bunch of young boys that are keen to stamp their names on a national stage. Dunstan High School pulled out a great win against Gore High School and will travel to Christchurch to play St Andrews College who are stacked with Crusaders U18 players and have a point to prove after just missing out on a Top 4 finish in the UC Championship.
The girls competition is always very interesting because they are not as known or covered as the boys are but it is always exciting to watch. One thing I really love about girls rugby in New Zealand is that the female players are getting more serious, more talented, working harder and are now turning out some real stars in high school.
This Top 4 Nationals and the Condor 7's have both really helped the growth of the game and the talent that comes from it. Onehunga High School have qualified from the Blues as well as Christchurch Girls High School from the South Island. We are waiting for two big games from the Chiefs who have Hamilton Girls High School playing Rotorua Girls High School. Then in the Hurricanes Region St Mary's College playing Manukura.
I think both these team should be in the Top 4 because of the talent from both teams, but this is how the system is done so we have to live with it for now.
Have a look at the games and go support the local team or just go see the best young talent coming through. Keep an eye on hstop200.com for the updated times and places these games will be played.
BLUES: King's College vs Westlake Boys High School
CHIEFS: Hamilton Boys High School vs Tauranga Boys College
HURRICANES: Hastings Boys High School vs Palmerston North Boys High School
SOUTH ISLAND: Otago Boys High School vs Nelson College
BLUES: St Kentigern College vs Rangitoto College
CHIEFS: Manurewa High School vs Trident High School
HURRICANES: Feilding High School vs Aotea College
SOUTH ISLAND: St Andrews College vs Dunstan High School
BLUES: Onehunga High School Qualify
CHIEFS: Hamilton Girls High School vs Rotorua Girls High School
HURRICANES: St Mary's College vs Manukura
SOUTH ISLAND: Christchurch Girls High School Qualify