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Rathkeale win Dawkins title

By Gary Caffell

It’s a major understatement to say the Rathkeale College first XI football team have had a successful 2016 season.

Their unbeaten record at the second tier Rex Dawkins secondary schoolboys tournament in Taupo last week not only won them that title but meant their only defeat for the whole season was their Wellington division one final loss, and that went down to a penalty shootout.

Rathkeale started the Dawkins tourney in fine style, a 6-1 win over Taradale and a 5-2 win over Wanganui High meaning they were guaranteed a place in the top 16 with a game to spare.

However, the third of their qualifying round games was still important as they were up against tournament favourites Rutherford High, who had five New Zealand under-17 players in their squad. It was a hard-fought encounter and a Tom Wagner goal was enough to give Rathkeale a 1-0 victory and the number one qualifying spot in their pool.

The first round of top 16 games had Rathkeale up against St Paul’s and they made a flying start.

By halftime they were up 5-0 and they went on to win 9-0 to progress to the last eight where they confronted Kerikeri.

A combination of heat and tired legs did have an adverse effect on the Rathkeale effort but after a scoreless first half the deadlock was broken by an Anthony Sprowson goal and Rathkeale went on to win 3-1.

The semi-finals had four teams from the Wellington region involved, with St Pat’s Silverstream taking on Newlands College and Rathkeale up against Kapiti College.

Rathkeale began strongly with excellent work from Callan Elliot and Stephen Sprowson setting up a simple finish for James Boyce to open the scoring.

John Weilding then scored from the penalty spot to make it 2-0 and that was the score at halftime.

The second half followed much the same pattern with Rathkeale dominating possession and Kapiti relying on counter attacks to make an impression.

Kapiti did manage a goal but it was Rathkeale who deservedly prevailed 2-1 for a date in the final with St Pat’s Silverstream.

The tournament decider saw Rathkeale have the better of the early exchanges but it was St Pat’s who took a 1-0 advantage when they scored midway through the half when a corner was only half cleared and the ball was eventually headed into the net.

Rathkeale rallied from that setback and pushed hard for the equaliser which came from a short corner.

Tom Scott received the ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a clean strike with his left foot which never looked like missing.

At 1-1 at halftime it was anybody’s game but a 20-minute blitz in the second spell resulted in goals to John Weilding and Anthony Sprowson which shot Rathkeale out to a 3-1 advantage.

It was then a case of whether St Pat’s could find something extra to reduce the leeway but Rathkeale’s defence was equal to the task and it was still 3-1 when the whistle sounded to end the game.

Rathkeale coach Steve Coleman was understandably delighted with the outcome.

“After the disappointment of the Wellington final I didn’t quite know which team would turn up for this tourney but the boys have been brilliant,” he said.

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