Hamilton Marist made it a clean sweep of all three Waikato club rugby championship finals they hosted today, but the biggest effort was saved for a 26-20 breakthrough victory over Otorohanga in the premier
Marist had not won the Waikato Breweries Shield for 10 years but No8 Bart Karalus led his men to a dramatic six-point victory over the defending champions at Marist Park on Saturday after leading just 6-3 at halftime.
Most of the rugby was played in the second half where all six tries were scored - three to each side and Otorohanga will be ruing a missed kick at goal from out in front in the first half.
Left winger Rupeni Seduadua broke the ice in just the third minute after the break for Otorohanga after prop Josh Ostern had made the initial break down the left flank and found lock Josh Ferguson in support.
That gave the visitors the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the match and really put the heat on the top-seeded hot favourites in front of their home crowd.
But Marist responded superbly in the 47th minute when young centre Niko Malo carved through the Otorohanga defence, found veteran ex-All Black flanker Marty Holah in support and he put speedy young New
Zealand Under-20 winger Joe Webber in for the try, Wharenui Hawera converting to put the home side back in front 13-8.
But Otorohanga weren't done, they worked their way down field and forced back-to-back lineouts from penalties, lock Anthony Wise winning two-handed ball and his pack driving over for prop Ted Tauroa to get
the try to tie the scores 13-13.
James Hemara missed the conversion and when Hawera kicked a 40-metre pressure penalty goal despite the attentions of the Otorohanga supporters, giving it back to them in turn when the flags went up, Marist took a lead they were not to concede again.
In the 70th minute Marist got the chance to kick a penalty to the corner and try their own lineout drive and big prop Lionel "The Rhino" Wairau powered over to make it 21-13.
Otorohanga looked to have done their dash but dug deep and found further reserves from which Wise scored from yet another penalty, kick to the corner and lineout drive to close the scoreline to 21-18.
Hemara overcame plenty of booing and jeering from the home supporters to put the conversion over from wide out and at 21-20 it was all on again for the last five minutes.
Otorohanga, as they had done for much of the half, dominated possession during that time but could not pierce the standout Marist defence and a turnover led to Marist kicking deep to the corner and catching the home team in possession.
That brought a penalty and Webber took a quick tap for Niko Malo to seal the victory with a try in the left corner with time up.
Marist also won the Rowe Cup for the premier B title, beating Te Awamutu Sports 29-0 in the final on the No2 field after the green and whites had earlier won the Elliot Shield under-21 final by edging University 27-22.
Premier A (Waikato Breweries Shield) final: Hamilton Marist 26 (Joe Webber, Lionel Wairau, Niko Malo tries; Wharenui Hawera con, 3 pens)
Otorohanga 20 (Rupeni Seduadua, Ted Tauroa, Anthony Wise tries; James Hemara con, pen). HT 6-3 Marist.
Premier A minor final (Waikato Draught Plate): Hautapu 33 Melville 20.
Premier B (Rowe Cup) final: Hamilton Marist 29 Te Awamutu Sports 5.
Promotion-Relegation series: Hinuera 17 Taupiri 13, University 22 Te Rapa 20.
Under-21 (Elliot Shield) final: Hamilton Marist 27 University 22.
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