Sharks bow to Tigers in league fi­nal

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - AARON GOILE

Toko­roa’s Pa­cific Sharks lost to Hamil­ton City Tigers in the Waicoa Bay club rugby league fi­nal on Satur­day af­ter a dra­matic last-gasp try claimed Tigers a stun­ning 24-19 win at Resthills Park.

The Sharks opened the scor­ing in the 25th minute thanks to a su­perb break from sec­ond rower Dy­lan Clark, be­fore Vin­nie Morunga sprinted 50 me­tres to fin­ish. Po­mare added a penalty, and the Sharks went to half­time ahead 8-0.

And it was all the vis­i­tors early in the sec­ond spell too, with prop Callin Tereu go­ing over on the back of a couple of lovely off­loads. Po­mare missed the ex­tras from in front, but the Sharks went back to back, with the very next set see­ing a beau­ti­ful chip and chase from cen­tre Tam­a­toa Karora-reu, be­fore Den­zil Manu fin­ished.

Sud­denly it was 18-0 and the Tigers needed some­thing spe­cial. They got just that with Namu Puru barg­ing over to get his side on the board. Then, prop Eli Paul pro­duced an in­spired charge down and re­gather, with winger Ray Wal­lace div­ing over.

Then Aaron Jol­ley grub­bered through, be­fore the ball was sent left again and Cal­ci­nai put Wal­lace away. Cal­ci­nai’s re­li­able boot tied the scores with 11 min­utes to play.

Jol­ley missed a field goal and then things looked grim for the Tigers when Si­mon Beale was pe­nalised for a late shot. But Po­mare shanked his at­tempt from in front with five min­utes re­main­ing. How­ever, just a couple of min­utes later, Morunga slot­ted a su­perb field goal to put the Sharks up 19-18.

Then the home side got right down to the last tackle, be­fore the un­be­liev­able hap­pened, Cal­ci­nai dum­my­ing and crash­ing over to com­plete the fairy­tale.

Tigers coach Hira Al­bert la­belled it ‘‘an amaz­ing game’’, and one which could have gone ei­ther way.

Sharks coach Neville Takiri was left to lament what he pin­pointed as ‘‘the big swing of the game’’.

‘‘Just af­ter we scored that [third] try and the ball went out, the mo­men­tum sort of switched, and it was hard to get it back from there, they just came over the top of us,’’ he said. ’’We built pres­sure well, we de­fended our line well, it’s just when we were on the back foot we slipped on that right side there.

‘‘Tigers are a classy team and they can score from any­where, and it showed.’’

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