By Gary Caffell
Wairarapa College came agonisingly close to winning the premier national secondary schoolboys hockey title, the Rankin Cup, in Wellington on Saturday.
Up against St Paul’s Collegiate in the final Wairarapa College grabbed a 3-2 lead when Wills Taylor scored with just a couple of minutes of ordinary time remaining only for St Paul’s to equalise less than 10 seconds from fulltime and then score again in extra time for a 4-3 victory.
It was a cruel ending for Wairarapa College and the absolute carbon copy of what had occurred in their Wellington premier division final against Wellington College a few days earlier, where they lost in extra time after winning that title the previous two seasons.
“Obviously it’s gutting to lose a national final like that but they (St Paul’s) are a very good side and you have to give them credit for the way they came back at us,” Wairarapa College co-coach Grant Brewster said yesterday.
“Our boys gave it everything they had, we have absolutely no complaints in that department.”
Two of the Wairarapa College goals in the final were scored by Wills Taylor with the other going to Michael Brewster, whose 12 goals made him the third top goal scorer in the entire tournament.
For Grant Brewster the highlight of the Wairarapa College effort right through the Rankin Cup tourney was their consistency, the need for which he and fellow coach Kelly Hare had impressed upon them leading into the event.
“You go into tourneys like this knowing that one bad game can completely blow your chances of winning the title and it was a tribute to the guys that they never dropped their standards, they played well in every single game.”
The loss in the final left Wairarapa College with the number two seeding for the 2017 Rankin Cup while Rathkeale College finished in 24th place. In the Federation Cup girls tourney Wairarapa College placed 14th and St Matthew’s Collegiate 22nd.