Kelston Boys' High School have been crowned the 2018 NZRL Secondary School Premier champions after a hard-fought final against St Paul's Auckland College this afternoon.
The two schools squared off at Bruce Pulman Park in South Auckland after four days of competition and delivered a thrilling final.
St Paul's drew first blood in the 11th minute when back rower Daetyn Tanuvasa shrugged off two defenders to score near the right wing but Kelston responded eight minutes later when halfback Konrad Tu'ua sliced through the defence to score from close range.
The traded blows saw Kelston head to the sheds at halftime with a 4-6 lead.
St Paul's looked set to take the lead early in the second half after getting deep into Kelston's territory but an intercept from winger Raymon Tuaimalo Vaega saw the exact opposite happen.
Tuaimalo Vaega lined up the pass on his own 20m and managed to get a hand to the ball, recovering it before sprinting away 80m to score a crucial try.
Kelston back rower Elam Payne came to the party six minutes later, powering through St Paul's' line to make the score 16-4.
St Paul's fought back though, sparked by an inspired run from Jonah Palota-Kopa who steamrolled multiple Kelston tacklers to score and cut the deficit to six.
St Paul's then had a chance to send the game to overtime when Antonio Aufai scored in the final minute but they were left with heartbreak after the game-tying conversion hit the left post and missed, leaving the score at 16-14.
It ends three years of anguish for Kelston Boys though, who had lost the last two years to Southern Cross Campus in the final.