Marlins win grand final against Wainuiomata
Riki Rupapere says he sprouted 1500 grey hairs watching his side win a rugby league grand final on Saturday.
The Titahi Bay Marlins coach said he could barely enjoy the tight affair with Wainuiomata at Hutt Recreation Ground, won by his side 22-18.
It capped off a season in which the Marlins lost just three games, all in the first round, and put to rest the agony of last year’s grand final loss to Te Aroha.
The core of the Marlins team was the same in 2016, and Rupapere said it was great for those returning players to go one better.
‘‘I’m really proud of their efforts and it was a satisfying way to end the year, especially for the families and supporters that have been there the whole way,’’ he said.
The Marlins led 12-10 at halftime but solid defence and a two-try effort from Joshua Tararo made the difference.
‘‘These guys work so hard for each other - there’s young talent mixed with experience and they’re so willing,’’ Rupapere said.
Marlins stalwart Jeff Risati, who didn’t play in the finals due to injury, said it was ‘‘redemption of sorts’’ after the disappointment of last year’s grand final loss. It was important to prove that the effort wasn’t just a one-off, he said.
Neither Rupapere or Risati would be drawn on whether the Marlins would push for a spot in the premier grade.
Both said it was important to firstly get a second team at the club but promotion was something that would be seriously discussed among the team and with Wellington Rugby League during the off-season.
Whiti Te Ra beat Te Aroha 26-24 in the premier grand final.
Trey Kapao-Tuara hits it up for Titahi Bay Marlins in the grand final against Wainuiomata.