Haeata Community Campus’ rugby league team made it to the development grade final of the New Zealand secondary schools rugby league tournament in Auckland on Thursday.
The team lost to Marcellin College from Auckland 30-8 in the final of the development grade.
Sua Aiiloilo, a year 13 student at Haeata, was named MVP for the final.
Haeata came up against Trident High School from Whakatane in the semi-final and won 14-10 in a thrilling golden point finish.
An error from Trident meant Haeata were able to score a try in the second half of extra time.
“The boys went crazy, the sideline went crazy and as soon as the hooter went we ran out there to get our boys,” said coach Te Wairau.
The team entered the competiton for the first time under its new school name.
Previously, Wairau has attended the tournament with Aranui High School, along with five other players from the Haeata team.
After losing their first game to Onehunga High School 12-32, the team came back in their next two games of pool play to beat Papakura High School 16-30 and Francis Douglas Memorial College from New Plymouth 20-28.
Wairau was proud of the team’s ability to come back after a loss in their first game.
“The boys were really resilient,” he said.
After attending the tournament previously, Wairau knew it would be challenging and wasn’t sure how far the Haeata side would get. His goals for the tournament were for the team to work better together.
“We needed to build on our camaraderie together.”
“We’re one of the smallest teams and one of the youngest teams, but the boys have shown a whole heap of pride in the jersey,” he said. Next year the team will only lose a couple of players who are year 13. Wairau is hoping to build on his young talent and continue in the development grade next season.