The Dannevirke Tigers didn't have enough gas in the tank to play two big games in two weeks as they lost the Manawatu grand final to the Linton Cobras at Fitzherbert Park on Saturday.
After upsetting Taranaki's Bell Block Marist Dragons in last week's Western Alliance final and beating Linton twice during the season, Dannevirke went into the Manawatu final as the clear favourites.
But Linton got revenge for the two losses as they played their best game of the year to win 43-22 in what was believed to be their first grand final appearance since 2000.
Dannevirke came out firing and led 16-16, but Linton fought back and Jaxon Samoa nailed a dropped goal to lead 17-16 at halftime.
Samoa then took control of the match, making a number of line breaks and scored a 50m runaway try.
Prop Rikki Simmons did a lot of damage, running through the Dannevirke pack as Linton steamrolled them in the second half with fullback Leon Walker also looking dangerous.
The Kia Ora Warriors finished their season on a high as they beat the Ohakea Magpies 24-12 in the Manawatu reserve final.
Kia Ora have hit their straps in recent weeks, form which would have seen them through to the Western Alliance competition if they had played this way earlier in the season.
It was a tight start against Ohakea before Kia Ora scored three quick tries to lead 18-0 at the break.
The Magpies put up a better fight in the second half but Kia Ora scored another try to seal the win.
Prop Kele Kose was Kia Ora's best with two tries and kept getting them front-foot ball.
It proved a good day for Kia Ora as their under-13s and under-15s both won their grades.
The Kia Ora under-15s beat Dannevirke 34-18 and the under-13s also beat Dannevirke, 28-14.
- © Fairfax NZ News