Wellington College takes premier one

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 09:33 26/09/2012
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KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

JUBILATION: The Wellington College First XI hockey celebrates after taking out the premier one final against HIBS 3-2 on Friday night.

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Wellington College won the premier one competition for the third successive year after they triumphed over Hutt International (HIBS) College 3-2 in a tensely fought encounter.

When Wellington College lined up on Friday against HIBS for the title fight at the national hockey stadium, the crowd was colourfully split in two.

One side of the embankment was dominated by the black and gold of Wellington College and the other boasted the blue, red and white of HIBS.

Both sides seemed to be battling for bragging rights based purely on their chants, but it was Wellington College's "spirit fingers" that took the cake.

Whenever a scoring opportunity went Wellington College's way, the large group of supporters would waggle their fingers towards the turf.

"It's a bit of a tradition now that in the big moments of big games, or at big sporting events and stuff, that'll come out," Wellington College's vice-captain, Ollie Logan, said.

The gesture certainly stirred something in the players on the pitch, in particular Logan, who scored two drag flicks in the final.

"Whenever I'm on the field, I hardly notice anything in the crowd, I switch off, but it must have helped," he said.

Taking home the trophy for the third year on the trot was a satisfying feeling, he said, especially since Wellington College were missing their star centre half, Matt Symonds, who was away at the New Zealand under-21 training camp. "To do it without Matt shows the depth of our team," Logan said.

Wellington College have beaten HIBS before this year, but the title fight was a true reflection on how evenly matched the teams were.

"HIBS are a very good side, we recognise that, and we knew it was going to be a battle," Wellington College coach Manoj Parbhu said.

"The HIBS team got off to a strong start and deservedly went 1-0 up, but it just shows the character and the spirit of the team that I coach, to not drop their heads and come back to win," he said.

New Zealand under-18 squad member Bradley Read scored first for HIBS, when he netted from an almost impossible angle, but Wellington College were quick to respond with a Simon Williams deflection.

Minutes before the halftime whistle, the Wellington College fans spirit fingers made their first appearance and Logan scored his first drag flick of the match to take the lead 2-1.

After the break, a goalmouth scramble led to HIBS being awarded a penalty stroke, comfortably put away by Read to level the score.

With 10 minutes to go, the Wellington College fans spirit fingers went up once more, and again Logan responded by slotting in a second drag flick to take his team one up.

In the dying seconds of the game, HIBS' make-or-break moment came when they were awarded a penalty corner, but they failed to convert.

For HIBS, it was a bittersweet ending, because the only team they have lost to in the competition was Wellington College.

But for Wellington College it has been a year inundated with success.

They were unbeaten in the first round of club competition, they won the final as well as all their traditional interschool features and they finished third at Indian Shield to regain a place in Rankin Cup next year.

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As the final whistle went on Friday, the crowd of spirit-finger- waggling supporters swarmed the pitch to congratulate their winning side, to the delight of coach Parbhu.

"It just reminds me of days gone by when you were allowed to run on to the pitch after a big rugby game or a big soccer game and pat the heroes on the back for their fantastic performance.

"I was really proud of them and am absolutely stoked that the boys pulled it off," Parbhu said.

In the girl's premier one final played at Clareville last Thursday, Wairarapa College beat St Matthews 1-0.

- The Dominion Post

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