Kelston's championship glory

After a 10-year wait, Kelston Boys High School has claimed the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rugby League Nationals title with a come-from-behind 26-18 win over the previously unbeaten Mount Albert Grammar School in Fridays final in Papakura. Photo: Photosport


Kelston reached the decider by eliminating Otahuhu College in the semi-finals on Thursday while Mount Albert Grammar had caused the upset of the tournament with its second victory of the year over New Zealands most dominant school St Pauls College.


Kelston was in its second big-time final after losing to St Pauls in the College Rugby League competitions Warriors Cup grand final last month.


Dave McDermott-coached Kelston, playing with a helpful breeze, started the final strongly with two tries to take a 12-0 lead.


Mount Albert Grammar came back impressively by scoring three tries to lead 18-12 at halftime with the wind behind it for the second half.


There was an expectation the elements would be an advantage for MAGS but it was Kelston which was able to turn the contest in its favour, levelling up at 18-18 and then finishing the match with another converted try and a penalty.


In the Developing Schools final, Rotorua Boys High School scored four unanswered tries to lead 24-0 at the break but St Thomas of Canterbury College responded with three tries of its own in the second before losing 18-24.


The championship final was marked by a moments silence before kick-off to acknowledge the passing of Kiwi great Mel Cooke. Kiwi No 384, he was inducted into the Legends Hall of Fame in 1995 and named in the Kiwis Team of the Century at loose forward.


Winning the Developing Schools MVP award was James Fisher Harris (Whangarei Boys High School) while Logan Winter (Aranui High School) won the equivalent Premiership award.


The winner of the man of the match award in the Premiership final was Salafuauli Falelua-Malio (Kelston Boys High School).


Results:


Championship Final: Mount Albert Grammar School 18, Kelston Boys High School 26; Third/fourth: St Paul's College 20, Otahuhu College 12.


Cup Final: Tokoroa High School 18, Papakura High School 22; Third/fourth: Papatoetoe High School 16, Tangaroa College 22.


Plate Final: Westlake Boys High School 24, Southern Cross Campus 28; Third/fourth: Kaitaia College 28, Aranui High School 14.


Bowl Final: Aorere College 62, Taita College 0; Third/fourth: Henderson High School 20, Tu Toa College 30.


Developing Championship Final: Rotorua Boys High School 24, St Thomas of Canterbury College 18; Third/Fourth: Whangarei Boys High School 14, James Cook High School 22.


Developing Championship Placing: Rosehill College 42, Northcote College 14; Howick College 36, Southland Boys High School 10.