Mauao dedicate their win to former team mate who passed away

By Mere McLean

Te Wharekura o Mauao are the first Māori-medium school to win the Bill Hill BOP secondary Schools Trophy when they defeated Western Heights High School in the Co-ed division for the region. The Māori school walks away with the chance to represent the region at a national level.

Ten minutes into the game. Bailey Matoe, Captain of TWOM crossed the try line scoring the first try against Rotorua's Western Heights High School. The conversion was picked up by Te Rangi Hika. 

The match was physical with both sides putting their bodies on the line. Eventually, Heights saw the benefits of applying pressure on the attack after being awarded a penalty kick putting them on the scoreboard. Just before half time, Mauao led 14-3.

Into the second half Heights were rewarded a penalty kick. But ball handling errors were an issue for both sides. Mauao managed to score another try but missed the conversion. Brodie Wood of Heights retaliated with this try and secured the conversion. Minutes later Heights scored another try with Mauao ahead by one point. Mauao went on to win 19 - 18.

After their win Mauao captain, Matoe dedicated their win to Kereopa McDonald, a past student of the school who passed away last year. 

“The boys are really close in this team, he was an older and younger brother to all of us so we fought till the end."

Meanwhile the Western Heights captain says he's still proud of his team and even thou the season is finished coach Stephen Smith says they had to overcome a lot, “We lost a lot of players from last year at the beginning of the season and I thought we would find it difficult to make it to the finals this year. But this is the only second game we have lost all year and it's been to Mauao both times." 

Next week Mauao head to Counties Manukau to play their next opponents.

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