Marist St Pats produced a heroic second half defensive effort to lift the Swindale Shield from a fast-finishing Tawa.
MSP had the match well in control until No 8 Pago Haini had a brain fade and stomped Tawa prop Tolu Fahamokioa right in front of the touch judge with about 22 minutes to play.
At that stage MSP were well in control, up 25-14 on the scoreboard and with the wind behind them.
The final 20 minutes became an exercise in survival as Tawa threw everything into defending their title. They closed to 25-21 when fullback Randall Bishop scored in the corner with about 10 minutes to play, but couldn't finish numerous opportunities to win the match.
Those included No 8 Sam Blair stretching over the try line, but being correctly adjudged to have made a double movement.
Tawa had led early thanks to two James So'oialo penalties, but had squandered the wind and a mountain of possession in the first half to trail at the break.
MSP got the only try before the break when halfback Peter Sciascia's off load got his side in behind the ruck, creating an overlap out wide for wing Ryan Setefano to cross for a 12-6 lead.
Tawa then imploded conceding a soft try two minutes later from an awful pass from blindside Joketani Koroi that was toed through by MSP for centre Cardiff Vaega to run in beside the posts.
After the break first five eighth Fa'atonu Fili produced a moment of magic to grubber into the in-goal for Setefano to grab his second as the score blew out to 25-9.
Tawa were slowly working their way back into the match with their reserves making an impact and after a series of lineouts on the MSP line, Koroi crashed over to close the gap to 25-21 with So'oialo's sideline conversion.
Then Haini snapped and the complexion of the match turned.
Tawa threw everything at their undermanned opponents, but couldn't crack a resolute defence and Fili iced the result with a late long-range penalty.
WHO STOOD OUT
Setefano was a decisive figure in the match and not because of the two tries he scored. The little wing made two try saving tackles late in the match, that many a player would have missed.
The first was on Tawa's New Zealand sevens wing George Tilsley and the second, on a Tawa replacement who seemed certain to score near the posts with less than 10 to play.
MSP blindside Gabe Papuni was tireless in his work and well supported by openside Isaac O'Connor, while the midfield of Isaia Petelo and Cardiff Vaega was solid.
For Tawa, lock and captain Filisone Koloamatangi put in a solid shift alongside Blair. Tilsley was a handful on the wing and replacement Jeff Makapelu made a strong impact.
MSP won their first Swindale Shield since 2008, while Tawa will be kicking themselves for losing their last three matches and their title in the process. It wouldn't surprise if these teams met again in the Jubilee Cup playoffs.
MSP 28, TAWA 21
Venue: Kilbirnie Park
Red cards: Pago Haini 58'
Best and fairest: 3 points: Ryan Setefano (MSP wing); 2 points: Sam Blair (Tawa No.8); Gabe Papuni (MSP blindside)
Marist St Pats 28 (Ryan Setefano 2, Cardiff Vaega tries, Fa'atonu Fili 2 con, 3 pen) Tawa 21 (Jonetane Koroi, Randall Bishop tries, James So'oialo con, 3 pen). HT: 15-9.
- The Dominion Post
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