Tawa de­feat Marist to win Jubilee

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JA­COB BELESKI

Since the fi­nals for­mat was in­tro­duced in 1993 no side had lost their first two Jubilee Cup matches and gone on to make the semi­fi­nals.

But Tawa went one step fur­ther on Satur­day, de­spite los­ing not just two but their first three open­ing games.

But they surged back with a six-game win­ning streak to defy the odds and snatch the ti­tle from a ram­pant Marist St Pat’s side with a nail-bit­ing 24-20 win at Porirua Park on Satur­day.

Tawa cap­tain TJ Fer­ma­nis was elated at the fi­nal whis­tle, af­ter MSP had launched a des­per­ate late on­slaught on their line.

‘‘That was the long­est two min­utes of my life. I’ve been hug­ging peo­ple I don’t know left, right and cen­tre – I can’t be­lieve it,’’ he said.

It was Tawa’s sec­ond ti­tle, af­ter win­ning the Jubilee Cup in 2013.

Fer­ma­nis said a change in at­ti­tude had led to their re­mark­able im­prove­ment in form.

‘‘We were down and out af­ter the first few rounds of Jubilee Cup, so we went out and played like we had noth­ing to lose.

‘‘In fi­nals it’s all about who turns up on the day, and that’s where we’ve stepped up in the last few weeks.’’

Vet­eran wing Etuale To­gia pro­duced a match-win­ning per­for­mance in pos­si­bly his last out­ing for the club, scor­ing a dou­ble and play­ing a cru­cial role in their other two tries.

Fer­ma­nis had iden­ti­fied a fast start as cru­cial to their chances, and he got ex­actly that as Tawa scored first through dy­namic cen­tre Pepe­sana Patafilo.

It was the first of four won­der­fully con­structed tries, as Tawa’s youth and en­thu­si­asm to at­tack from ev­ery­where came to the fore.

Fer­ma­nis ac­knowl­edged their younger play­ers had played a huge role this sea­son.

‘‘We’ve had colts and younger play­ers step­ping up all sea­son. We had to keep re­mind­ing them how lucky they were to be in a fi­nal, they’re a re­laxed group of guys.’’

MSP si­lenced the Tawa con­tin­gent in the crowd when Peni crossed for his sec­ond from an­other 5-me­tre scrum to nar­row the gap to 24-20.

When Tawa re­place­ment Pati Gaualofa was sin-binned with four min­utes left, it looked like MSP’s ex­pe­ri­ence could get them home.

But Tawa held firm over the dy­ing stages to se­cure their sec­ond Jubilee Cup ti­tle.

PHOTO: KEVIN STENT

Eli­jah Va’a-Brook­ing gives a rous­ing haka af­ter Tawa’s dra­matic win.

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