Tritons bring back Gwynne Shield
After a week of tough, physical encounters the South Waikato Tritons can claim to be defending champions in the Gwynne Shield.
Bringing home the shield for the second consecutive year was no mean feat for the under-13 side.
Held annually in the July school holidays, the week-long tournament sees 10 teams from the Waikato region compete for top place.
The tournament began in 1921 and the shield is returning to the South Waikato for the 20th time.
Tritons are selected from players that are year 8 and under, weigh in under 57 kilograms and are from within the South Waikato. Coach Hamish Allan said this was the first time many of the players got a taste of representative rugby and some would continue on to be selected for Waikato trials.
This year Allan was joined by Noora Manu, Greg Draper and Richie Taumata on the coaching bench, all with vast rugby experience and a true passion for youth rugby in the community.
The young side played all teams within the first six days and from game one to game nine huge improvements were made.
Allan said the forward pack made excellent headway and continued to utilise their key players across the field.
The team finished top for points by Friday, cementing a spot in the grand final on Sunday against Hamilton Wasps.
‘‘This was a highly anticipated game as we had lost to them both in pre-season and on our first day at tournament. From previous encounters the team was quietly confident that a few changes would help get the shield back home.’’
The 60-minute final was well contested and intense right from the start with both teams laying on great attacks. At halftime Tritons led 15-0, but they knew the Wasps would try to strike early in the second half.
The team lifted their performance and the response was instant.
Some attacking flare had Tritons come away with a convincing 34-17 win.
Captains Justin Reti and Toso Pa led the way all week, their experience showing from having played in last year’s final.
As well as winning the shield, Tritons took out the Rowan/Baird Trophy for the highest placing country team.
First-five Toso Pa was selected for the Ross Southcombe trophy for the top rangers area team player and also won the Top Tritons player of the tournament.
At the conclusion of this tournament a country and city side were selected to trial for the Waikato Roller Mills team. The following were selected for the Country team: Justin Reti, Toso Pa, Darnel Ahsin, Star Thompson and Pareiha Kingi – all influential players through the week.
The Tritons club will head into the under 45 kilogram Bowers Cup with an under-14s and under15s team. See details on their Facebook page.
Winners again: The South Waikato Tritons Gwynne Shield team has once again won the Waikato week-long tournament and defended their title.