The Rutherford College 1st XI football team kicked off their tournament in Hamilton against Kelston securing a 6-2 victory.
We lead early with a great 30 metre strike from Nick Haggo and Callum McNeill added a second from the penalty spot before Antonio Bonkovich added a third to give the team a 3-0 lead at the interval. Dean Phommahaxay finished off some good play with a well-placed finish from the edge of the box early in the second half for a 4-0 lead. At this point Rutherford took their foot off the gas and Kelston seized back the ascendancy and scored two good goals of their own, to bring the score back to 4-2. Ryan Sabich scored a header from a corner and then finished off a good move to complete a 6-2 win. A great start against one of the tournament favourites.
Monday afternoon was a 7-1 victory over Lytton High school from Gisborne. Tuesday morning was a comprehensive victory over Matamata College 6-0 with Dario Kaltak opening the scoring off his left foot. Further goals to Antonio Bonkovich 2, Alex Burden with a great header from a corner, Dylan McDonald lobbed the keeper, and one to Ryan Verney.
The afternoon game was against the other team with a 100% record St Paul’s Collegiate, a private school from Hamilton. The game was dead as a contest after 15 minutes when Rutherford raced out to a 4-0 lead with Callum McNeill finishing from close range before Antonio scored 2 and Dean Phommahaxay finished a great move from the edge of the box with a crisp left foot shot.
Further goals to Alex Burden, Ryan Verney and Bhabjot Singh getting off the mark as a 1st XI player, completed an 8-0 victory.
Wednesday morning saw us up against Whakatane High School. An early hat-trick for Antonio and further goals spread throughout the game to Dean Phommahaxay, a great left footed clip over the advancing keeper, a striker’s tap in for Dario, one for Ryan Verney who completed a sweeping move, a great long range strike for Bhabjot and a proper centre forward goal for Alex Burden, who was put up front for a 20 minute cameo, completed an 8-0 rout.
Thursday 1/4 final v Gisborne Boys High School.
Playing on the number 1 field Callum McNeill got the scoring started with the goal of the season, a 35 yard bullet that gave the keeper no chance. Antonio then went on a personal goalscoring rampage and added 4 to his current tally in the first half. Ryan Sabich then completed a good team move.
In the second half all players got game time and in a half that was mainly about keeping the ball Dario added 1 more to the half time lead to complete a 9-0 victory.
The semi-final versus Glendowie College got started when we scored with our first real attack due to a peach of a shot by Dean Phommahaxay. The lead was doubled shortly afterwards when Callum McNeill converted a cross after Antonio had given his marker a roasting. We lost our way through not making good decisions and clearing the ball well and we gave away a sloppy free kick on the edge of the box which was well struck by the opposition to get the back into it. We got in to half time 2-1 up and despite a much improved second half performance where the game should have been dead and buried with the number of clear cut chances squandered we only had a second strike from Callum McNeill to show for the dominance. A calamitous moment allowed Glendowie back in at 3-2 and in the last minute of the game we conceded a penalty. This opportunity was duly squandered by an over eager attacker and we effectively fell over the line into the final. Based on possession and quality of play we deserved to be there but it was way closer and more nerve wracking that it ever needed to be.
The goal was to be in the final and however it happened, we got to play in the big dance and this is fully deserved based on the performances and quality of football played throughout the week.
Final v Bethlehem College.
Rutherford made a great start scoring early after great work down the right where Ryan Sabich beat his marker 1 v 1. He fired a great ball across the box for Ryan Verney to arrive just beyond the penalty spot to clinically dispatch a first time left footed shot back across the keeper. For the remainder of the first half we were not able to find our rhythm and the half remained fairly even although Hayden in goal did not have to make a save. It was clear that the team was anxious playing as clear favourites. Discussion that centred around this at half time and just having faith in themselves and how they had played all week paid dividends. In the second half they took full control with the speed of the ball movement and accuracy of passing improving significantly. Chance after chance was created but a combination of poor finishing or exceptional goalkeeping kept the score at 1-0. Possession for this half must have been 80-20. With a few minutes left Tom Hutton mad a great outside to inside run and cushion a first time ball around the corner for Antonio Bonkovich to run onto and calmly finish into the bottom right hand corner of the net to confirm the victory. All that was left was the awarding of winners medal and the presentation of the trophy to captain Alex Burden to cap off an excellent week.
Antonio Bonkovich was awarded the golden boot for being top goal scorer for the week and Callum McNeill player of the tournament.