Randwick win premiership after decade

Randwick players celebrate their win.
Randwick players celebrate their win.

In his own understated way, Darryl Marino was as ecstatic as any of the Kingfisher faithful at Porirua Park.

Randwick's emphatic 34-8 win over Wainuiomata in Saturday's Wellington rugby league grand final was greeted by the customary scenes of euphoria.

Ten years the famous club had waited for this day, as if Marino needed any reminding. Coach of Randwick's 2001 and 2002 premiership-winning teams, he had returned to the job with this very moment in mind.

"It's obviously a pretty pleasing day for the club," Marino said.

And for the coach himself.

Most of the players in the Randwick team owe him a debt of some sort.

From veterans such as Ralph Leafe, who was part of the last title-winning team, to teenagers Benson Tago and Axton Daniels, who cut their teeth in the Marino-coached Taita College team, the connections run pretty deep.

"With a club like this, with its proud history, you want to win a bit more often," he said.

On Saturday, they did that in some style.

Standoff Rubin MacCormick, another of the Taita College products, was instrumental in a lot of what Randwick were able to put together, as was Tago.

Daniels, son of the 2002 premiership winner Poko Daniels, scored a brace of tries as Randwick took early control of the match and never relinquished it.

By grand final standards they actually won with some ease, even if Marino was doing it a bit tougher than that on the touchline.

"For me it felt like it was 8-6 all the way through the game. It seemed that tight and Wainui definitely created some chances and they could have put a lot of pressure on us and put us into a bit of panic," Marino said. "We really did have to battle a lot."

Losing experienced prop Willie Collins to injury in the first three minutes did not help. But the remainder of Randwick's pack more than made up for his absence.

"We really did defend well and our forwards, I felt, were pretty much underestimated during the season.

"But once again they fronted in the middle of the park and matched Wainui's physical intensity," Marino said. "If we can defend teams, we know we can score points. But it's a matter of containing the opposition first and we did that."

The title was Randwick's 15th and they now sit just three behind leaders Petone on the all-time list of Wellington premiership winners.

"We've got a bit of a way to catch them, but it's definitely good to be up there in the top two."

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The Dominion Post