Underdogs rise to occasion

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2013

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It may be hard to recall when it last happened but both West Auckland teams have notched up victories in the latest round of the Fox Memorial rugby league premiership.

Wearing the underdog tags both Bay Roskill Vikings and the Glenora Bears defeated their opponents in round 17 on Saturday.

Now the two sides will face each other in the final round this Saturday at Harold Moody Park with the Roope Rooster Trophy on the line.

Both sides won't make the finals but will want the Roope Rooster locked away in their cabinet for the summer.

Bay Roskill are also playing for their coach and manager, Colin and Tania Brown, who are retiring from their duties after 20 years of coaching this weekend.

It's been a tough year for Vikings' fans who have watched their young team fold under enormous pressure and concede more than 600 points in 16 games.

But that was all forgotten on Saturday as the Vikings held their nerve to defeat the Northcote Tigers 38-34 at Fowlds Park and attempt to avoid relegation to the Sharman Cup in 2014.

The Vikings were in the unfamiliar position of being ahead 22-12 at half-time and captain and stand-off Marcus Perenara was forced from the field with a hamstring injury after 15 minutes.

Brown says it was imperative to keep his team level-headed.

"It's no secret defence hasn't been our strong point and we started to play ad-lib footy on attack which worked in our favour for a while."

But the Tigers drew closer to stay in touch with the Vikings as the game hung in the balance.

The final score to seal the win came from centre and man of the match Sione Niuvao Taka.

He picked up his third try and ended the game 38-34.

The following game at Fowlds Park saw the Mt Albert Lions put the Roope Rooster Trophy on the line against the Glenora Bears.

The Lions have already wrapped up first place and were looking to keep on rolling towards the semifinals next month.

But the Bears had other ideas and spoiled the party with a 32-24 victory.

The Lions struck first to lead 6-0 and almost grabbed another straight away.

However, momentum swung and tries to Phil Kingi, Cole O'Connor and Eddie Aki put Glenora in front 16-6 at the break.

But Glenora were carrying a few niggles and fatigue was setting in as the Lions scored three quick tries.

The score read 28-24 with seven minutes to play.

Glenora forced a Mt Albert line drop out which they kicked short.

Kingi grabbed the loose ball which the Lions attempted to tap backto race into score for the Bears and wrap up the win and the Roope Rooster.

Bears' coach Brendan Douglas says his side did their homework and it was nice to gain some revenge after their past two heavy losses against the defending champions.

"We did a lot of analysis, worked out how to target them and it paid off.

"Although we'll be having an early summer this year we really want to hang on to the Rooster to take something out of the season," Douglas says.

But Brown is hoping that the silverware is something he can lift before he leaves the club.

"To win the Rooster and also stay in the Fox Memorial would be perfect," Brown says.

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