Last week the Rutherford College first XI football side made history by competing at the National Premier boys tournament held in Napier.
The first day of the tournament saw the boys face an undefeated St Thomas of Canterbury, they had won the Christchurch Premier league and a decisive strike from Ryan Verney proved the difference as Rutherford won 1-0 against one of the tournament favourites. A tough loss against St Peters Cambridge meant a win or draw was required against Rathkeale the following day to progress from the group into the top 16 playoffs. Goals to Dean Phommahaxay and Muhammad Mohebbie saw us draw 2-2 and progress from the group in a game that on another day would’ve seen us take all three points.
A tough 4-0 loss to Westlake Boys in the 16 round meant that on Wednesday morning we played Napier boys with the winner progressing into the top 12 in the country. That’s exactly what the boys did with Joe Thornton scoring a left-footed screamer to take the game to penalties where Liam Gilbert saved two and scored one of his own meaning Rutherford eventually won 6-5. On Thursday, for the chance to make the top 10 in the country we played Scots college (Wellington champs) with the game looking like it was going to penalties a late goal was conceded in the last minute after another outstanding performance by the team. The week concluded on Friday, 6 September against Saint Kentigern College (Auckland champs). Rutherford was looking for revenge as we were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup by them earlier in the season. We took an early lead thanks to an own goal forced by Lukas Webster. Unfortunately, some smart subs by Saint Kentigern’s saw them regain a 2-1 lead in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Final placing was twelfth in New Zealand at our first attempt after winning our way into this elite level of competition, after many years of climbing the various leagues to earn the right to be at this level of competition. This caps off a great season where 18 of 20 games were won in our own region. One of the two losses included a loss to Auckland Premier Champions, St Kentigern College in the semi-final of the Auckland Knockout Cup. Notable results during the 18 wins registered were beating the national finalists Auckland Grammar, and St Peters College at the cage who finished third at nationals. These results prove you don’t need scholarship players if you start with a 5-year goal of working hard each and every day to be better today than you were yesterday and repeat that process every day you will be successful.