Central suburb teams dominate
It's taken 60 years but the Pt Chevalier Pirates rugby league team has at last reclaimed the coveted Fox Memorial Shield.
Victory was secured after a fierce battle with fellow inner-city club the Mt Albert Lions.
Proud Pirates chairman Glenn Poole says co-coach, veteran member and former Warriors legend Stacey Jones has a lot to do with the team's revival.
"It was a great ship with great bones it just needed a bit of leadership, someone to steer it," he says.
The win comes a year after the Pirates were found guilty of throwing a match, relegated to fifth place and kicked out of the semifinals.
It meant the club had even more to prove on the field this year, Poole says.
Work began in November last year with many gruelling training sessions in the sand at Piha and team-building exercises in Huntly.
"We have never had a more determined side. By the time we hit the paddock on March 31 we were probably the fittest team out there."
The careful preparation paid off.
"In very early November we pulled together seven or eight key players and sat down and strategised and set some goals for 2013.
"The boys and especially captain Ian Hayes were very keen and all bought in. They were so committed and hungry for the ultimate reward.
"By the final they were pretty tired but had enough petrol in the tank to do it."
Planning for next season has already begun.
"We certainly don't want it to be another 60 years until we win it again.
"They're already talking about defending it, they want to come back and defend it. These guys have really grown together over the last few years... there is a real sense of achievement but also camaraderie."
Poole also paid tribute to the club's supporters.
"I have to take my hat off to the volunteers who got in behind the campaign."
The shield is named after Edward Vincent Fox who died in 1930 as a result of wounds suffered during World War I.
Mr Fox represented Auckland against the 1914 England touring team before enlisting in the army.
He was awarded the Military Medal but suffered leg wounds that ended his playing career. Fox was appointed to the Auckland Rugby League executive and became an Auckland and New Zealand selector.
BULLDOGS GRAB THE CUP
A hard-fought rugby league grand final win for the Richmond Bulldogs sees them crowned 2013 SAS Sharman Cup champions and promoted to next year's Fox Memorial Shield.
The Bulldogs capped off their centennial year with an 18-14 win over the Otara Scorpions after a cliffhanger finish in front of a 1500-strong crowd at Henderson's Trusts Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams fully deserved their place in the final after a long and hard season.
The Bulldogs came into the final after a strong performance in the semifinals against the Scorpions, trouncing them 34-22.
The first try of the day came in the fifth minute courtesy of Bruce Tusa who put through Tagisia Fulutusi for the Scorpions.
Toleafoa Leaupepe went agonisingly close but the desperate Scorpions defence held out - until a rampaging Hector Purcell bulldozed over to give Richmond their first points.
Steve Watkinson converted and Richmond were up 6-4. Richmond seemed to get a second wind and with only 10 to go in the first half went over again down the left flank after quick hands had Marcus Auva'a ground the ball under pressure.
Another Watkinson conversion had Bulldogs up 12-4 at halftime.
In the second half the Bulldog's Bronson Harden was held up in goal to be denied a try.
This gave Otara their first opportunity of the half and James Tulikaki crossed to give the Scorpions their second try, making the score 12-8 after a missed conversion.
Richmond did not have to wait long for their next chance and when the Bulldogs kicked early and caught Scorpions' winger Tagisia Fulutusi out of position, the Bulldogs found themselves hard on attack. From there an early tap by Watkinson had him find his opposites napping and he managed to plant the ball to extend the lead to 18-8 after converting the try.
With three minutes remaining Scorpions' five-eight Leiloa Lafaele crossed and with a successful conversion it was 18-14 to the Bulldogs with a minute to go.
From the kickoff Otara missed the ball and it went out for a line dropout.
The Scorpions gained possession and broke away downfield but an Otara grubber failed to find its man and the ball was cleared for the Bulldogs to win 18-14.
SAS Sharman Cup Grand Final Results:
Richmond Bulldogs 18 (12) V (4) 14 Otara Scorpions.
Auckland City Harbour News