Ponsonby make rugby history
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.
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.