Mudlarks' dry track attack makes them worthy winners
THE WEEKENDGLENN MCLEAN
OPINION: The mud city moas found a dry track suited them just as well in the premier club rugby final.
Written off by more than a few observers leading into the playoffs a little more than a week ago, Inglewood were worthy champions.
As rookie co-coach Ngatai Walker pointed out, defence wins championships.
Yes it does, but finding a bloody good attack at the end of the season helps mightily as well.
Inglewood have long had a reputation for being a tough, uncompromising side.
It's a reputation hard-earned from when the men of the 1980s trudged onto the slop which used to be called a playing field at Jubilee Park.
They would grind opposition sides into the ground through their fearsome packs.
It was 10-man rugby more often than not.
Hawera, like most at Rugby Park during the 1987 division one final, got the shock of their lives when Inglewood turned up and played like the Barbarians, running the ball from everywhere on the way to scoring eight tries and recording a 38-25 win.
Everyone was used to watching them grind out 6-3 wins over Eltham, so to score that many points in one match was certainly unexpected.
Although it would be unfair to lump the 2014 side in that category, Inglewood have not exactly treated the tryline as a close friend this season, just twice gaining a bonus point for scoring four of them.
That mindset changed in their biggest match of the year as they looked to attack from the outset.
In wing Avon Lewis they found a champion having probably his best day on a rugby field, while co- captain Berny Hall led the defence, guarding the advantage line like it was his country's border.
One thing is for sure, there would have been some sore bodies in the opposition ranks because, to a man, Inglewood defended with an almost sadistic frame of mind.
It prompted Taranaki Rugby boss Mike Collins to remark he hoped the union's rep side could produce that sort of attitude come national provincial championship time.
"It's overwhelming, outstanding," Hall said, the McMasters Shield tucked under his arm.
"It's huge. Massive for the club, massive for everyone.
"Probably halfway through the season people were saying we couldn't play rugby, we couldn't score points but the last couple of weeks, to do what we have is awesome.
"Our defence has been massive all season and today we scored some phenomenal tries from way out."
There is no better feeling as a player than coming off the field as a finals winner knowing you have contributed to that victory.
All of Inglewood's men would have had that feeling at 4.07pm because they all did something that led to the victory.
Even when they went down to 14 men the players stood up, forcing Coastal's scrum into retreat close to the line with only seven players.
That was the attitude which saw Inglewood win and draw in the last seconds of matches just to keep their semifinal chances alive. And it was an attitude which won the premier title.
- Taranaki Daily News
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