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.

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