Wests teams compete at Wynton Rufur

There was high excitement as two 7th grade teams from Western Suburbs headed for Hutt Park for the annual Wynton Rufer tournament on Sunday May 18.

Even before play had started, the Western Suburbs A side was struck a blow when Max was unable to play with what turned out to be a hamstring injury, leaving us with seven players to take part in the day.

For all of the Western Suburbs B team it was their first taste of tournament / academy level football and had only had one training session together. they had been entered in the A division (thrown in the deep end, thanks Al!!).

Wests A were grouped with Miramar Rangers, Stop Out and Petone in group play and the boys played brilliantly to come through with three wins.  Miramar were edged 5-4, Stop Out beaten 5-0 and Petone dispatched 7-2.  Addison created loads of chances for his team-mates with Ryan, Ben and Jonny knocking in the goals. Finn was winning plenty of midfield battles (and getting some rough-house treatment from our opponents in the process!) while Lennon and Cameron saved us time and again with their defensive work.

The Wests B team got through pool play with a loss, a draw and a win, ending up one goal short of qualifying for the top 4. They won their semi-final and then their final by “golden goal” in extra time to finish 5th overall in the A division. Great Job from all the players. A great result for this team with the kids all enjoying the day and gaining a taste for wanting much more…..

For the Wests A was a true team effort to reach the semi-finals with a perfect record.  Cameron was named our Player of the Morning, and took part in a lunchtime game with former All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston and members of the Phoenix training squad.

Wests A met Upper Hutt in the semi-finals in what was to be the most exciting game of the day. The boys quickly worked out that they wouldn't be able to dribble past their opponents as easily as they had earlier in the day, so their passing game came to the fore. It was a joy to watch them passing the ball around and trying to open up the opposition defence.

With the scores locked at 2-2 late in the game, Ryan chased after a through ball and stooped to head home the winning goal and put Wests into the final.

Waiting in the final were Miramar Rangers who we'd beaten in our first game of the day. They were expected to be a much tougher proposition in the final and so it proved. Miramar took a 2-nil lead before Jonny scored twice to draw us level at 2-2. However, Rangers managed two more goals and try as they might, our boys were unable to pull back a two-goal deficit for a second time.

At the final whistle there was disappointment from the players, but also great pride from the parents at the way they'd acquitted themselves across the day.

A huge thanks to Karl Jenner who coached the Wests A team, conducting a number of training sessions in the lead-up to the tournament and guiding the team to great effect on the day. Roll on next year!

Another huge thanks to Jason Gribben and Allan Holdaway who stepped up at short notice to take the B team to the Tournament and are now training Academy teams for the next tournaments.