James Koloto epitomised the desire to win that seems to be implanted in champion College Old Boys teams.
For instance, having two Hankins Shields wins to his name isn't enough.
The former Palmerston North Boys' High School forward led them to their second win in three seasons after dipping out in the semifinals, to Saturday's runnersup, Kia Toa, a year back.
This time the score was 21-10 in COB's favour, but the margin was more handsome than it sounded.
"It's a good environment where we want to keep on winning championships," he said.
"Hopefully there will be a few more."
Koloto's only disappointment was that he didn't get to complete the final because of a leg injury.
But even when he limped off, on the hour mark, that was only two minutes before first five-eighth Otere Black banged over a penalty for what looked to the 1500 or so spectators to be an impregnable 21-3 lead.
"There is always a bit of doubt in your mind," Koloto said.
"For the last 10 minutes we knew we had to shut them out. We tried to shut them down in the forwards."
That was how it worked out, COB's defence from the outside in also effective.
COB have youth on their side when it comes to the future. On reflection, Koloto said at 24, "I'm one of the senior players in the team".
Even so, nine of them had been part of the 2012 winning team.
Kia Toa captain Bryn Templeman, although hugely disappointed, had no qualms about coming second this time.
"At the end of the day we lost to a better team," he said. "They dominated territory and possession and played finals rugby I thought.
"A couple of missed tackles were costly and their second try took it out to three scoring plays for us."
Templeman said COB had proven all year they had been the most clinical side.
"They're a team of hard workers who work for each other. To lose only one game all season is a pretty good feat."
He acknowledged his men weren't sharp enough at the rucks and gave the referee an excuse to ping them.
"It was a good feat [for Kia Toa] to get to the final."
No one can deny Kia Toa's recent record either. They have graced the semifinals every year since 2008 and won the Hankins that year, in 2009 and also last year.
See match report page 11.
- Manawatu Standard
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