Vik­ings just couldn’t do it

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

Pho­tos: DEAN PEM­BER­TON.

Talk to the hand: Pa­trique Mu­manga of Te Aroha fends off Vik­ings’ hooker Jay Bol­stad dur­ing the Ap­ple­ton Shield grand fi­nal on Satur­day.

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