The highly anticipated 2023 NZRL National Boys Youth Tournament has been full-on, as teams of the best young men from throughout the country have battled for victory on the field. This year has seen an expansion as the Coastline, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato Districts entered the tournament. Day one saw some thrilling pool games, and day two produced closely-contested semi-finals across both 16s and 18s age-grades, with Grand Finals now set to be played tomorrow.
National Boys Youth Tournament Major Semi-Finals recap:
Semi-Final 1 – Auckland Vulcans v South Island Scorpions
Final score: South Island Scorpions 24-0
The South Islanders came strong out of the gates, scoring and converting twice within the first ten minutes. Scorpions kicker Kairus Booth then successfully notched a penalty kick while the Vulcans side struggled to score, bringing it to 14-0 at halftime in favour of the Scorpions. In the second half the South Island Zone boys continued to dominate and keep the Aucklanders from scoring, comfortably securing their place in the 16s Grand Final. #9 Rico Lemalie finished the match one try short of a hat trick.
Semi-Final 2 – Waikato v Akarana Falcons
Final score: Waikato 22-14
Akarana were the first to put points on the board after #12 Quinn Opuariki crossed for a try. Not to be outdone, the young men from the Waikato returned with some fiery attack to score twice and put them in the lead before halftime, 10-4. An intense second half saw the Aucklanders strike back, scoring quickly after kick-off to equalise. The two sides continued to battle going try for try, but ultimately it was Waikato who came out victorious 22-14. Waikato #9 Turama Paranihi finished with a double that helped his team take the win.
Semi-Final 1 – Counties Manukau Stingrays v Akarana Falcons
Final score: Counties Manukau Stingrays 16-8
In this battle of the Aucklanders, the Counties Stingrays produced a more dominant performance but the Falcons refused to quit, fighting right up until the final whistle was blown. The South Aucklanders kept Akarana scoreless to 16-0 up until the 43rd minute, but spirited gameplay was seen as both sides put their bodies on the line under heavy contact. Akarana centre #4 Isaiah Fale impressively scored a double to put his team on the board, but Counties Manukau claimed the victory and will feature in tomorrow’s 18s Grand Final.
Semi-Final 2 – South Island Scorpions v Auckland Vulcans
Final score: South Island Scorpions 22-4
The South Islanders came out firing, scoring twice and converting once within the first ten minutes. The Scorpions side continued to dominate the Auckland side in the first half, scoring again while keeping the Vulcans out, 16-0 at the half. After several close attempts, the Vulcans were finally rewarded with a try in the 37th minute, but the Southern Zone team were too strong and comfortably took the win 22-4. Scorpions #6 Eli Bijl-Kakoi performed his kicking duties well, scoring six points with three successful conversions from four attempts.
National Boys Youth Tournament Finals Draw – Friday 27th September
Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Waikato 11:00 am (Puketawhero Park Field 1*)
3rd/4th place final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons 9:00 am (Puketawhero Park Field 2)
Grand Final – South Island Scorpions v Counties Manukau Stingrays 12:30 pm (Puketawhero Park Field 1*)
3rd/4th place final – Auckland Vulcans v Akarana Falcons 10:15 am (Puketawhero Park Field 4)
*live-streamed game on youtube.com/@NZRugbyLeague
For the entire National Boys Youth Tournament finals day draw and to keep up with all the action, visit linktr.ee/nzrlgrassroots