Sharks lose bite against Warriors
A shattering turn of the tide saw Pacific Sharks fall in the grand final by the exact same score they won by last year.
This time in 2013 Pacific faced off against the Pikiao Warriors in the Bay of Plenty Rugby League grand final and managed to pull away with a 30-26 victory.
But in an ironic flip of the board, a gut- wrenching 30- 26 loss to the same team has left the Tokoroa side wondering how they managed to lose their grip.
Pacific had an outstanding performance with powerful tackles, accurate kicking and some crisp passages on attack. But two disallowed tries came as tough blows for the determined side and a few short but costly lapses gave Pikiao unnecessary territory that they capitalised on.
In grand final fashion both teams turned up to Puketawhero Park in Rotorua to win.
Pikiao was first on the board, managing to grasp an early 12-0 lead, but with about 15 minutes to go Pacific hit back hard.
In a clean passage of play the ball was swung out to Cassius Read for Pacific’s first try. Ashley Fransham followed that up, touching down near the posts.
Two successful conversions by Ngari Hawkins saw Pacific head into the sheds at halftime: 12-all.
Co-captain Patrick Russell led his side admirably in the last 40 minutes, opening the second half
with a stun- ning jump try.
The Pacific wave kept crashing and it wasn’t long before Read scored his second down the right wing, taking the score to 20-12.
But in the final 10 minutes they seemed to slack defensively, missing tackles that gave Pikiao the yards needed to set up a try. A missed conversion kept Pacific on top.
They had the territory they needed and the reigning champions looked set to snatch the win once again, but another brief slackening on defence turned the tables.
Seventy five minutes of grand final rugby league took its toll on Pacific and Pikiao penetrated their line, bursting over to nail the victory.
Coach Paniora Daniels said the boys still have a lot to be proud of.
‘‘It was nothing short of a good grand final ... It’s been a good year, but you can’t help but look at things that could have happened.’’
It is onwards for the side that has at least five players in the Waicoa Bays training squad.
Powerful run: Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano takes on the Pikiao defenders.
Smart play: Co-captain Patrick Russell swings the ball out wide.
Emotion packed: Delaney Takiri leads a haka to thank fans.
Graceful in defeat: Pacific’s Shane Tekuru embraces a member of the winning Pikiao team.