Pelorus players celebrate
Pelorus claimed their first Marlborough senior club rugby title in eight years on Saturday after they edged Central 13-8 in a hard-fought division two grand final at Lansdowne Park, in Blenheim.
It has been an up-and-down five years for the Bojacks, who were the Marlborough premier champions in 2005 before playing their last season in the premier competition in 2006.
Historically based at Canvastown but now playing home games at Havelock, Pelorus made the division two semifinals in 2009 and were runners-up in 2011 but were unable to field a team in 2010 or last year.
On Saturday afternoon, though, those struggles were far from their minds as a gutsy, spirited second-half effort saw them claim the 2013 division two crown.
The Bojacks dominated the first 20 minutes but were unable to turn pressure into points.
After 24 minutes Central first five-eighth Rawiri Tamati had kicked a penalty to open the scoring.
The Pelorus scrum was dominant as both sides kicked for territory frequently and, although Central finished the half in the ascendancy, there was no further points scored before the break.
It took just two minutes into the second spell for Pelorus to draw level when fullback Rikki Bovey kicked a straightforward penalty.
However, there was still nothing in it and the error-rate from both sides was high.
It wasn't until the 60th minute that the Bojacks made the decisive move of the match.
After sustained pressure in Central territory, standout Pelorus No 8 Amco Cassidy made a 30 run and went over.
Eight minutes later they were in again when first five-eighth Johnny Horton dotted down, after a elusive run by wing Jackson Gill and a strong surge by centre Julius Bradley, to take the score to 13-3. Central were not done, though, and when winger Drew Roberts scored after a movement that he started on halfway which involved fellow winger Ray Roebeck and Tamati, it was a five-point game with eight minutes to play.
Sensing their opportunity to snatch victory, Central applied plenty of pressure in the dying stages.
However, the defence hung in as the Bojacks held on for a well-earned win.
Jubilant celebrations after the final whistle showed just how much it meant to the Pelorus players and their vocal supporters.
Coach Chris Cherry was understandably delighted after the game.
"It was a funny old ending but as soon as he blew the whistle, I was bit dumbfounded . . . [I'm] really proud of the boys, they really dug in," he said. "I didn't want to make to many changes.
"I just watched them out there put their heart and soul into it and I'm absolutely over the moon for them."
Cherry said the victory meant "everything" for their proud club.
"It means everything to these boys. They come from Rai Valley, they come from Blenheim, they come from everywhere and it's just unbelievable for them. We've been very close - now we've got it.
"Our forwards were phenomenal and that sets a platform.We threw everything into it and we've come away with the spoils."
Cassidy carried strongly and handled the majority of the kicking duties while blindside flanker Lance Mackel and hooker/captain Reuben Uatuku were also prominent.
Props Jason Smith and Peter Tapp powered a dominant scrum while the hard-running Bradley and Gill, who made several good runs and defended well, were the standout backs while Horton was heavily involved throughout.
For Central, No 8/captain Barry Houkamau-Sollitt, blindside flanker Tatana Mita and lock Corban Phillips toiled hard all day.
Tamati had his moments and centre Alan Dinan was a source of go-forward ball.
Scorers: Pelorus 13 (Amco Cassidy, Johnny Horton tries, Rikki Bovey pen) Central 8 (Drew Roberts try, Rawiri Tamati pen) Halftime: 0-3.
- The Marlborough Express
Who will win the Press Cup on Saturday, 2.30pm, Lansdowne Park, Blenheim?