Vikings just couldn’t do it
Porirua Vikings fell at the final hurdle in Wellington’s club rugby league grand final on Saturday, out-passioned by a Te Aroha side they had soundly beaten all season.
The 23-22 scoreline at Fraser Park was indicative of a match that had plenty of drama, especially in the final quarter.
After Te Aroha jumped out to a 12-nil lead, on the back of solid play and several errors by a flat Vikings side, it all turned around either side of half-time.
Porirua scored two tries in three minutes before the break, crackers to Stacey Malaulau and Jay Bolstad, before Anton Wereta’s individual brilliance made it 18-12 not long after the teams turned around.
But Te Aroha dug deep, scored two tries of their own and, after Johnny Teleaga made it 22-all with two minutes left, Te Aroha marched downfield and slotted the winning drop-goal.
David Lomax, going for his second grand final win and the Vikings’ historysetting fourth in a row, said he was ‘‘ obviously disappointed’’ as he knew what a win in the senior grand final means to the rugby league community.
‘‘The boys did a lot of work all year to get there and it knocks you around a bit [to lose].
‘‘I’ve got to take my hat off to Te Aroha.
‘‘They competed well, put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t do a few things that saw us beat them during the year.
‘‘We got in front but they stayed within striking distance and we made some bad decisions.’’
Earlier in the day, Titahi Bay Phoenix knocked over Trentham in the senior 1st grand final, while Wainuiomata beat the previously unbeaten Vikings in reserve grade.
On Sunday, the junior Vikings were in four of the seven grand finals from under 10s to under 19s.
They prevailed in the under 10, 13, 14 and 15 grades but lost the under 12, 17 and 19 finals. Junior coach and club stalwart Antz Akavi said they were ‘‘very, very proud’’ of their young players and next season would be see them push to even greater heights.
Talk to the hand: Patrique Mumanga of Te Aroha fends off Vikings’ hooker Jay Bolstad during the Appleton Shield grand final on Saturday.