Shield cham­pi­ons af­ter nearly 40 years

South Taranaki Star - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JANE MATTHEWS

The Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup team aren’t the only rugby play­ers in the re­gion cel­e­brat­ing break­ing a drought - a pri­mary school has won a shield back for the first time in more that 30 years.

De­spite the 36-year wait, a com­bined Mat­apu¯ -Eltham rugby team is happy to have won the McLeod Taranaki Rugby Union Shield.

The feel­ing was mu­tual for the Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup team who won a match at Naper’s McLean Park for the first time in 44 years.

Mat­apu¯ School last won the McLeod Shield in 1981. They hadn’t en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion for a few years and de­cided to amal­ga­mate with Eltham Pri­mary School to make up num­bers and en­ter to­gether.

The team’s coaches Bren­don Hall and Tipuna Mita said they were very happy with the re­sult and so were the play­ers.

‘‘They were pumped,’’ Hall said.

‘‘You al­ways have faith in them.’’

Mita agreed.

‘‘We ac­tu­ally were quite con­fi­dent be­cause the first game we won 81-14 I think,’’ he said.

‘‘So we thought ‘we think we’ve got the team to do it’.’’

The team played and lost against Kaimata ear­lier in the com­pe­ti­tion. They then came face to face with them in a ‘‘very tight’’ fi­nal.

‘‘That’s what made it quite ex­cit­ing,’’ Mita said.

‘‘We beat them 49-31 in the last five min­utes.’’

Hall said the win was great for the boys.

‘‘A lot of them are leav­ing this year, off to high school, so they got one last turn to have a go at it,’’ he said.

The com­pe­ti­tion goes for a cou­ple of months and saw nine Taranaki coun­try schools go against each other.

The shield is al­most 100 years old - the first win­ner ap­peared to be Ka­puni in 1920. Mat­apu¯ was scat­tered all over the shield from pre­vi­ous wins.

Mita said he even re­mem­bered play­ing for the shield when he was at school.

‘‘I was at a dif­fer­ent school and we never won it,’’ he said.

The win­ning team was made up of Mat­apu¯ and Eltham’s great rugby play­ers: Cody Hall, Kye­don Brewer, Tyler Ben­netts, Lochlan Prestidge, Tre­maine Brewer, Kyle Buck­thought, Jorvyn Katene, Car­los Barry, Clay Mita, Tyler Ni­chols, Kurt McFaul, Te Raina Cas­sidy, Se­bas­tian Lam­bert, CJ McMinn.

JANE MATTHEWS/ STUFF

The Mat­apu¯ Eltham pri­mary school team brought home the McLeod Shield for the first time in over three decades.

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