Record breaking Celtic take their 9th successive Ham ersley Cup title

JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Celtic's captain Nick Strachan talks about their 9th win in a row.

Celtic's stunning Hamersley Cup grand final run has kept going with a deserved 25-10 victory over Harlequins.

The South Canterbury championship win makes Celtic the most successful club in New Zealand in the modern era, when it comes to consecutive senior rugby crowns.

While Celtic's pack dominated proceedings their unsung backline sparked into life and ran in four tries at Alpine Energy Stadium, with first five Willie Wright adding a penalty and conversion.

Celtic captain Nick Strachan lifts the Hamersley Cup, celebrating their ninth successive grand final win.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Celtic captain Nick Strachan lifts the Hamersley Cup, celebrating their ninth successive grand final win.

A gallant Harlequins outfit certainly made a game of it but in the end ran out of steam.

Celtic captain Nick Strachan was delighted by his team's performance.

"It unbelievable really, nine in a row, it is awesome that the boys got the job done.

Celtic centre Steven Burt uses his strength to score.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Celtic centre Steven Burt uses his strength to score.

"Harlequins played really well, the scoreline didn't reflect how tough it was."

Strachan, along with prop Matt Fetu and No.8 Kali Latu, have played in all nine grand final wins.

The long serving Latu said it was his final game.

Harlequins second five Vatiliai Tora on the burst in the Hamersley Cup grand final.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Harlequins second five Vatiliai Tora on the burst in the Hamersley Cup grand final.

"I'm hanging up the boots, it's time to give the young guys an opportunity."

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Celtic got away to the perfect start, up 8-0 after 14 minutes, courtesy of a penalty to Wright and a try to second five Zac Saunders.

Saunders charged at the line and held on to the ball until his support arrived and then twisted his way over.

Celtic halfback Tom Watson clears the ball in his side's record breaking win.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Celtic halfback Tom Watson clears the ball in his side's record breaking win.

Unfortunately Harlequins key playmaker, first five Ken Hellier also limped off with a hamstring strain, having already lost their best lineout forward Sione Tauelangi before the kick-off to a neck injury.

Harlequins held tough despite struggling in the scrums and midway through the half wing Maile I'Ongi made a great run down the left hand touch but put his foot out.

They were however next to score with an excellent team try from their own half, with two men down injured.

Wing Sireli Buliruarua made a good run and eventually captain Nathan Tubb scored, with fullback Sean White converting from wide out.

Tubb was however was taken high before he scored, so Harlequins were awarded a penalty restart but the attempt at a 10-point play fell short.

At the end of the half Celtic decided to keep the pressure on and turned down two handy shots at goal, instead opting for lineouts.

While numerous forwards drives were kept out by some superb Harlequins defence, when the ball was spun wide, hard running centre Steve Burt found some space and crashed over in a tackle to take Celtic out to a 13-7 lead.

Harlequins had a couple of opportunities early in the second half but mistakes cost then when a quick penalty was not tapped and a ball was dropped ou wide, killing off a try scoring opportunity.

Shaun White did however did eventually make them pay with a well struck penalty to close the gap to three points.

Harlequins then lost gallant captain Nathan Tubb, who finally succumbed to an ankle injury and then White also went off injured.

Celtic then started to again exert their forward dominance with some well timed substitutions bolstering their pack.

Tom Fleming came on at No.8 and immediately made two good runs and then delivered a perfectly timed offload.

Lock Will Joines, standing out wide then came up with a brilliant no-look, flick offload to wing Jarrad Mannex, who scampered in to score in the corner, to make it 18-10

As the clock wound down Willy Taylor, who had stepped into centre, ran the perfect angle to score as Celtic spun the ball wide.

Wright's conversion meant Harlequins would need a miracle, having to score three times in five minutes.

They however could not conjure up their semi-final great escape and Celtic were the deserved winners.

Their pack were outstanding, grabbing several tight heads, and at times making huge metres off their mauls.

Fetu, Graison Dale and Garret Casey were a dominant front row, with the hard working locks Joines and Kerry O'Connor getting into everything. 

That gave loose forwards Jarred Gilmore, Strachan and Latu plenty of room to work with.

At first five Wright directed play very well, often keeping Harlequins pinned back, as well as picking the right moments to spin the ball.

Saunders kept Harlequins dangerman Vatiliai Tora largely under wraps, while fullback Henry Race put in some excellent tackles.

For Harlequins No.8 Josateki Veikune had strong game, Tora tried hard to create opportunities and veteran I'Ongi looked dangerous at times.

While their packed was outgunned youngsters Ben Dewsbery, Max Fowler-Burgess and Kamal Tackney showed they will play a big part in Harlequins future.  

It may have also been the last game for Tubb, who has been an outstanding leader and servant for the Quins.

In the Scott Cup (bottom four) final Pleasant Point staged a superb comeback from behind to win 34-29.

Point coach Kelly Walsh said they were down 29-8, with 11 minutes to go.

"We then decided to play some footy but we weren't flash before that.

"Credit to Geraldine they played really well but we hung there and managed to get the win."

For the Mud Dogs, prop Jake Harrison, lock Luke Brice and flankers Adam Beck and Jack Kingsford all had good games.

Grand final scorers:

Celtic 25 (Zac Saunders, Steve Burt, Willy Taylor, Jarrad Mannex try, Willie Wright pen, con) Harlequins 10 (Nathan Tubb try, Sean White pen, con) Halftime:13-7 

 - Stuff

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