HBHS within touching distance of history

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
HBHS touch team
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ

The HBHS touch team, winners of the national title for the second year running.

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Hamilton Boys' High School are within touching distance of a national touch tournament record, having won their sixth title at the weekend.

The 16-strong squad took out the New Zealand secondary schools' touch championships, at Bruce Pulman Park in Auckland, from Friday to Sunday.

It needs one more title to have the most wins of any school in New Zealand, and will have the nucleus of a winning squad next season.

Coach Nigel Hotham said his team found the going tough throughout the tournament, but were able to grind out victories.

Going through their opening pool unbeaten, HBHS were given a scare in the second round with an opening 5-5 draw with St Patrick's Silverstream.

They then beat St Kentigern, Kings High and Kelston, to book their place in Sunday's semifinal.

"It was pretty even all the way through," Hotham said. "We had a tough day in our section, but we managed to get through top of the section."

Playing Rotorua Boys' in the semifinal, both teams were tied up as the final hooter neared.

That was when Shanan Tomuri made a break and scored a touchdown, right as the final hooter sounded.

"We were preparing for dropoffs, but thank goodness we didn't need to. He scored right on the hooter."

In the final HBHS played Hastings Boys, and managed to dominate throughout despite a torrential downpour, which Hotham said is usually a leveler in touch rugby.

"When the rain came down I thought it would be a really tight game, but we dominated right from the start.

"Our yardage game was pretty huge and they had no answers. We let them get down our end only once, really, and we kept the pressure on them for the whole game."

The 6-1 victory was HBHS's fifth national title win in the past six years, having lost to Rotorua Boys in 2011 in a dropoff.

Tomuri, Mikaere Beattie, Isaac Te Tamaki and Hotham's son, Legin Hotham, were named in the tournament team, while Legin was also named Most Valuable Player for the tournament.

Only four players will be leaving the team for next year, and several younger players who are already knocking on the door will come into the side.

"We've won six national titles now, so we want to win seven next year, which would give us the most wins in tournament history."

Before then the team will have to qualify for nationals again, with qualification starting in early 2014.

Meanwhile, St Peter's Cambridge finished third in the mixed grade, defeating Opotiki College in the third-place playoff.

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- Waikato Times

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