The Counties Manukau Rugby Secondary Schools competitions reach their conclusion this week with finals day set for Saturday and the 1st XV final to serve as the curtain-raiser to the PIC Steelers game on Friday night.
The 2023 season has been a strong one and something Counties Manukau Rugby is extremely proud of.
"Following on from 2022, it once again shaped to be a healthy competition for local schools to battle it out throughout the season," Counties Manukau Rugby Champion - Teenage Shaun Atamu said.
"Leading into the 1st XV Cup semi-finals, it was anyone's for the taking and the scorelines proved that with the weekend's encounters.
"There has been some good rugby played within our schools here, which our schools can be proud of. We endeavour to make this a meaningful competition each year and a huge thank you to the efforts of our schools through the
2023 season. It has only carried on off the back of last year and next year we hope to move forward even stronger in this space."
Defending champions Tuakau/Onewhero AS will meet Rosehill College in the Boys' 1st XV final at Navigation Homes Stadium on Friday from **.
"Tuakau/Onewhero AS have backed up their efforts from last season and are looking to go back-to-back," Atamu said. "They have gained such momentum once again and will go into the final looking to finish the perfect season.
Waiuku College pushed them right to the last play of the game in the semi-final in what was one of the best games in the competition this year.
"Keep an eye out for young first-five Kyan Young who steers a good ship with centre Ofa Latu'ila hoping to do damage in the midfield. Up front, lock Hauraki Hira and loose forwards Whaitiri Preston and Josh Payne will be looking to carry the pack.
"Rosehill College have bolted into the grand final and have really pushed their case this season late in the competition. They travelled to come away with the victory in the weekend against last year's finalists Hauraki Plains College, which is a huge boost heading into the big dance.
"Keep an eye out for number eight Soni Moala-Liava'a, who has been great this season. In the backs, halfback Locky De Baugh will looking to steer the team around with senior lead midfield Callum O'Connor combining with Jacob Galuefa-Levi."
Tuakau/Onewhero have won the past two meetings between the teams but Rosehill have shown that anything can happen in big occasions.
Atamu is particularly proud of the growth the sport has seen in the age-group grades.
"It has been special to have a local U14 open grade this season with our local schools having battled away well across the season," Atamu said.
"Having both an U14 and U15 open grade locally for the first time in a few years has been an achievement in itself and our schools have worked hard across the season to allow this to happen. The transition piece from intermediate/junior club is just as important as school leavers and there is great appreciation for this.
"Pukekohe High School have done well in the junior ranks having both their
U14 and U15 Open teams in the respective finals," Atamu said. "Pukekohe High and Waiuku College will play off in the U15 open final while in the U14 open final we will see Pukekohe High take on Tuakau/Onewhero AS, where only two points separated the previous encounter."
Pukekohe High will play Wesley College in the 1st XV plate final on Saturday at 12pm to close out finals day. Pukekohe High managed to secure a tight victory over Papakura High School in the weekend to now challenge for the plate.
Special thanks to Patumahoe RFC for being the host venue of the secondary schools finals this weekend. All the very best to all our teams preparing for finals and we'll see you there
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