• Saturday, October 7, 2017

Defending champions, Akarana Falcons have done it again cementing their second successive National Premiership title over Waikato, 30-4.

The Falcons put a lid on Waikato’s hopes of a fairy-tale finish with a clinical game of footy at Mt Smart Stadium tonight.

Despite Waikato being presented with the first opportunity to put four points on the board in the first three minutes, the Aucklanders made excellent work of beating them to it. Following back-to-back sets of six and a knock on from Waikato Captain, Aaron Jolley, Akarana’s Siliga Kepaoa crossed the line for the first try of the game, shortly converted by Mark Graham, 6-0.

Relentless defense from Waikato just wasn’t enough to stop the force of Akarana who got another try on the board minutes later to push the score out to 12-0 following another successful conversion from Mark Graham.

A massive set of six from Waikato saw them gear up for their first try but a stray pass that missed the hands of their right-hand winger had Akarana turn the ball over. Waikato continued to match Akarana set for set but just couldn’t quite convert the several opportunities they did have into points.

Coming out of halftime with a 12-0 lead, Akarana caught Waikato napping to put another four points on the scoreboard, once again successfully converted by Mark Graham, 18-0. That was shortly followed by a try from their captain, Philip Kingi that after a conversion, took the score to 24-0.

A sin-bin for Waikato captain, Aaron Jolley, was then matched by Akarana when their star second-rower, Daniel Reuelu-Bachanan was binned too. It was Waikato that took full advantage of the situation when they scored their first well deserved four-pointer of the night in Eric Taiulu. An unsuccessful conversion meant that would be the last points the visitors would put on the board.

Akarana dealt Waikato their final blow in the last 10 minutes with Cole Waaka getting across the line, and Graham successful with his boot to make the final score 30-4.

Although they fell short of creating a fairy-tale finish, Waikato captain, Aaron Jolley was impressed with his team’s performance considering it was only last year they were promoted into the National Premiership.

“We’re super proud just to get into the final with the big boys and our province is proud of us too so we’re happy with the campaign we’ve had this year,”

“The brotherhood is as strong as ever with some new blood in our team – we’ll be back next year to have another crack,” Jolley said.

Lifting the champions’ shield for the second straight year, Akarana’s captain Philip Kingi was quick to thank his opposition.

“I’d like to thank Waikato for a great game, they really deserved to be here and the score doesn’t quite reflect their efforts this year,”

“We play a lot of footy together so it was just a matter of stringing together our plays and I think we managed to do that tonight,” Kingi said.

MVP of the match: Taylor Daniels – Akarana

1st/2nd : Akarana v Waikato – October 7, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, 7.30pm

Akarana Falcons 30 (Siliga Kepaoa, Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan, Taylor Daniels, Philip Kingi, Cole Waaka tries; Mark Graham 5, goals) Waikato 4 (Eric Taiulu try)

New Zealand Residents team named to play NZ Maori on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 2.30pm at Pulman Park, Papakura:

Philip Kingi Akarana Falcons
Sala Falelua-Malio Akarana Falcons
Joseph Price Akarana Falcons
Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan Akarana Falcons
Polima Siaki Akarana Falcons
Jordan Tuarae Akarana Falcons
Zac Tippins Akarana Falcons
Cole Waaka Akarana Falcons
Jeremy Siulepa Bay Lakers
Uila Aiolupo Counties Manukau Stingrays
George Edwards Counties Manukau Stingrays
John Vuetibau Counties Manukau Stingrays
James Baxendale Rockcote Canterbury Bulls
Erwin Sauni Rockcote Canterbury Bulls
Reuben Te Amo Rockcote Canterbury Bulls
Aaron Jolley Waikato
Darren Kingi Waikato
Dana Ratu Waikato