Hutt Old Boys Marist have come from behind to edge a brave Wainuiomata 14-11 to win the Jubilee Cup at the Hutt Recreation Ground yesterday.
In front of about 5000 fans it took a second half try to eye-catching wing Chase Tiatia and a late penalty to halfback Sheridan Rangihuna to end Wainui's fairytale season.
HOBM won Wellington's premier club rugby trophy for the second time, adding to their 2007 title, while Wainui were ever so close in the club's first final.
Tiatia stood out all day and not just because of his peroxide blond hair.
The young wing was the biggest attacking threat on the field whether at first receiver or injecting himself into the backline.
It seemed a matter of time before the regular season's leading try scorer would have a meaningful impact on the match and it came with an inevitability after 63 minutes when he stepped through the Wainui line to tie the scores at 11-all.
Rangihuna couldn't convert, but put his side up 11-8 five minutes later as Hutt's forwards slowly but surely wrestled momentum.
Wainui wing Tyler Tane tied the scores with a long range goal nine minutes from time, but Rangihuna had the final say in the 74th minute.
A crowd of about 5000 was treated to a dramatic finish as Tane attempted to send the match to overtime, only for his long range penalty to drop tantalisingly short.
Tane missed three penalties and a conversion on a day when Wainui played the role of brave underdog to perfection.
For Hutt Old Boys locks Jeremy Thrush and Steven Bradshaw were huge. Bradshaw in particular ruled the lineout, buried himself in the tight, took restarts, and carried strongly.
He was deservedly named as man of the match receiving the Jim Brown medal for the player of the final.
There were plenty of other stand outs for the winners with centre Parataiso Silafai-Leaana coming up with some huge defensive plays late in the match.
Captain and openside Jason Risdon fought for everything along with blindside James Wall, while wing Fereti Soloa had some bright moments in counter attack.
It was hard not to feel for Wainui who had huge support in the makeshift stands.
The visitor's ran out to a rousing haka from their local college's first XV and the energy of the school boys' support oozed out of their opening efforts.
Bradshaw was ruling the lineout, but with the wind at their backs Wainui dominated territory for the opening 15 minutes.
Had Tane not missed two shots at goal the visitor's would have led on the scoreboard, but it was Hutt Old Boys who had the best scoring chances in the first half.
Fullback Josh Roberton-Weepu stood out early with his deft tactical kicking keeping his team at the right end of the field and by the time he limped off after 55 minutes had marked himself as a class act.
HOBM missed their early chances. They turned down a shot at goal, but couldn't convert from the lineout drive as Wainui's physical defence repelled their efforts.
Wainui made them pay and fittingly it was blindside Shahn Eru who scored the opening try. It was sledgehammer tactics from coach Justin Wilson's men as their runners threw themselves at the defensive line.
Loose forwards Eru, Henry Stowers, and Greg Lealofi and provided the speed and props Justin and David Va'a the bulk. Eventually Hutt's line buckled and Eru crashed over on the half hour mark for a 5-0 lead.
Tane missed the conversion, but finally found his range on the stroke of halftime to give his side an 8-0 lead heading into the sheds.
In the end it wasn't quite enough as Hutt Old Boys ground away, got the ball in Tiatia's hands, then stayed at the right end of the field to convert the vital points.
Hutt Old Boys Marist 14 (Chase Tiatia try, Sherdian Rangihuna 3 pens)
Wainuiomata 11 (Shahn Eru try, Tyler Tane con, pen)
- The Dominion Post
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