Pon­sonby make rugby his­tory

Central Leader - - Sport - By Scott Morgan

It’s of­fi­cial – Pon­sonby are the best side in Auck­land club rugby for a record-break­ing fifth year run­ning.

In a re­peat of last year’s fi­nal, the reign­ing champs blew Waitem­ata off Eden Park 31-0, keep­ing the Gal­la­her Shield in their tro­phy cabi­net for an­other sea­son.

Pon­sonby coach Si­mon Scott says there was talk among his play­ers of tak­ing out the Gal­la­her Shield five times in a row af­ter they equalled the record for most con­sec­u­tive com­pe­ti­tion wins last year.

The pre­vi­ous record was set by Pon­sonby be­tween 1924 and 1927.

How­ever, Scott banned any dis­cus­sion about break­ing the record un­til they made the fi­nal.

“It was more im­por­tant to fo­cus on build­ing a suc­cess­ful team,” he says.

And suc­cess­ful they were, with the dry, cool con­di­tions al­low­ing Scott’s side to play an at­tack­ing brand of rugby, rack­ing up 21 points over a shell-shocked Waitem­ata dur­ing the first 20 min­utes of the game.

But he says his side’s de­fen­sive ef­fort was just as im­por­tant in the com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory.

“Waitem­ata had a few op­por­tu­ni­ties but the guys just tack­led their hearts out.

“We’ve de­vel­oped our de­fen­sive sys­tems this year. The guys’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion and un­der­stand­ing about space has gone through the roof.”

De­spite miss­ing sev­eral at­tempts at goal in the sec- ond half, two late tries to Pon­sonby wrapped up the match in con­vinc­ing fash­ion.

Scott points to blind­side flanker Te­vita Finau, who has been in­volved in five pre­vi­ous Gal­la­her Shield wins with the club, as the side’s best player on the day.

“He couldn’t make the start­ing line-up ear­lier in the sea­son, but in the last four or five weeks he’s re­ally showed his ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says.

As for next year, Scott says at this stage he’d like to come back.

And he has a mes­sage for other teams in the pre­mier com­pe­ti­tion.

“Bring it on. I’m not sure who’s mov­ing on, but we’ll have a lot of the same guys next year.”

Te Pa­papa-Mt Welling­ton failed to come away with any sil­ver­ware on Satur­day, loos­ing out to Teach­ers East­ern 18-8 in the Por­tola Tro­phy fi­nal.

To view more pho­tos from the Gal­la­her Shield fi­nal visit www.stuff.co.nz/auck­land/ 0a28363.html.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Record break­ers: Pon­sonby rugby’s Tom Wi­ley, Sam Fi­fita, Ju­nior Mani­noa, coach Si­mon Scott, Te­vita Finau, Wil­lie Uili and Chay Raui cel­e­brate the club’s fifth Gal­la­her Shield vic­tory in as many years on Satur­day.

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