Manukura made an emphatic statement to kick off the 2018 NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament at Auckland’s Pulman Park, powering past defending champions Southern Cross Campus 28-6 in the first game of the day.

Things looked ominous when Southern Cross opened the scoring on five minutes, but from that point on the Palmerston North outfit were completely dominant, scoring five unanswered tries to blow the scoreline out.

There were no such teething issues for Southern Cross’ Auckland counterparts Kelston Boys’ High School, who less than two weeks after winning their Auckland competition, struck twice in the second stanza to beat Tokoroa High School 14-6, after scores had been locked up at six apiece at the break.

A blistering first half, which yielded 28 points, set St Paul’s College up for victory over Manurewa High School 32-18. Matthew Savelio and 2017 New Zealand 16s Player of the Year Christian Tuipolotu both scored doubles for St Paul’s.

Mt Albert Grammar School edged past St Thomas of Canterbury College 24-18, with 2018 New Zealand Residents 16s player Moala Graham-Taufa scoring a key try from fullback, while at the same time on the main field Otahuhu College produced a shutout 32-0 victory over Whangarei Boys’ High School to jump to the top of the four-team Pool C.

Doubles to Cayle Maxwell and Cody Tolua helped lift Westlake Boys’ High School to a comfortable 28-6 win over James Cook High School, which gives them the early lead in Pool D.

Haeata Community Campus and Papakura High School played out a thriller to open the Development Grade side of the draw, with Haeata scoring a converted try inside the final 10 minutes to snatch a 12-all draw.

Whangaparoa College got off to a winning start, downing Manawatu College 24-12, with halfback Notana Snowden’s perfect boot a key difference for the Aucklanders, while Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate were too strong for fellow Aucklanders Howick College winning 22-10, and Onehunga High School ran out 34-12 victors over Naenae College.

Motu Tony, the recently-appointed New Zealand Rugby League General Manager of High Performance, said he had been impressed by the overall quality of the opening day.

“I’ve liked what I’ve seen. Today the rain and wind meant they were testing conditions for the young men, but they stood up to it well,” Tony said.

“I’m encouraged by what I see, and for me this is really exciting to see as I move into this new role.

“It’s a great chance to get a look at the players from different regions, and this tournament really is about showcasing New Zealand league”

Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura
Monday, September 3

St Paul’s College 32 Manurewa High School 18, Manukura 28 Southern Cross Campus 6, Wesley College 10 Rotorua Boys’ High School 4, Kelston Boys’ High School 14 Tokoroa High School 6, Otahuhu College 32 Whangarei Boys’ High School 0, Mt Albert Grammar School 24 St Thomas of Canterbury College 18, Westlake Boys’ High School 28 James Cook High School 6

Haeata Community Campus 12 Papakura High School 12, Whangaparoa College 24 Manawatu College 12, Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate 22 Howick College 10, Onehunga High School 34 Naenae College 12