The NZRL Men’s Premiership and Championship finals take place this weekend as North Harbour’s QBE Stadium host all four sides.
The Premiership final features a rematch of the round three clash between Akarana and Canterbury, while 2021 National Competition winners Otago face the Auckland Vulcans in a battle for promotion.
After a devasting 50—12 loss, the Canterbury Bulls will need no motivation as they run out onto QBE.
Both teams will be boosted by significant ins, including Daniel Hartley for the Bulls and former Blacktown Workers half Eiden Ackland. The Akarana side is coming into the match-up undefeated and will be looking to repeat their success from 2020 with another NZRL Premiership.
Both teams have talented players to keep an eye on this Saturday. The aforementioned Hartley has been at the forefront of the Canterbury attack, directing and controlling games at will when he has played. Cook Island international Brody Tamarua and former Warriors NSW cup forward Nicholas Halalilo will be looking to continue their form and set a foundation for the Auckland side to take advantage of. Canterbury fullback Etelani Pouli will also be looking to create trouble on the fringes through his strength and speed with the ball.
The Championship final will be hotly contested as Otago secured their spot in the match-up last week against Southland. The 2021 NZRL Men’s Competition winners will look to take that momentum into this match-up against an experienced and talented Vulcans side.
Former Canterbury and Cook Islands standout Tevin Arona will be looking to steer the Auckland side after a standout round-robin. Otago’s Kiardyn Hatch is also one to watch; the young South Island centre knows where the try line is and will be looking to add another to his tally.
Get down to QBE or watch live on Sky Sport!
AUCKLAND VULCANS v OTAGO WHALERS – 11:05 am
AKARANA FALCONS v CANTERBURY BULLS – 01:05 pm
18 September 2022
Canterbury secured their place in the 2022 National Premiership final, winning 26-18 against a strong Counties-Manukau.
Ten minutes in, Canterbury struck first as Daniel Hartley carried on his form from last week, his ball to Tofilau put the centre in space, and a draw and pass saw Penetito Ilalio go over to give the Bulls the lead.
Counties were looking for a reply and found it through fullback Klayton Waikato who burrowed his way over from dummy-half to score against his former team.
The home side was resilient all game, and they weren’t to be outdone, Hartley again putting another man through the Counties left edge. This time it was five-eight Etilani Pouli finishing a right-side shift, pushing the lead to eight points.
Determined not to let the game get away from them, the visitors put the pressure on Canterbury. Eight minutes from the break Fiohiva Faingaa finished off a tremendous right side shift to bring the game to within a try, as Canterbury went into the sheds up 12-4.
With the first points crucial in the second half, Counties scored first as Jerome Mika grounded the ball after a Lorenzo Filimaua grubber beat multiple defenders. Filimaua was unable to convert again, which brought the game level.
Ilalio again put the home side ahead after Canterbury was able to surge down the field. A right-side shift caught the Counties side on the back foot, and the winger finished off a simple move to retake the lead.
Thirteen minutes from time, Canterbury buffed the lead as Sauni grabbed a short ball and beat four defenders to go over and push the advantage to 10.
Counties hit back no long after with interchange Fatialofa charging over, but the Bulls squashed a late surge as Sauni picked up his second try, seeing the game out 26-18.
Tries: Ilalio x2, Sauni x2, Pouli
Conversions: Hartley 3/5
Tries: Waikato, Faingaa, Mika, Fatialofa
Conversions: Filimaua 1/4
11 September 2022
Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted the season openers for both the Canterbury Bulls and Waikato Mana.
Both teams got into the wrestle early before a Waikato error led to an attacking scrum for the Bulls. Off the scrum veteran halfback Daniel Hartley was able to slice through to take the lead.
Waikato hit back through hooker Mahinga Rangi as he beat multiple defenders to score and level up the game. Moments later Rangi made it a double as Canterbury left no dummy-half at the play the ball and the Waikato hooker scooped it up and took it 40 metres to take the lead.
With five to go in the first half, Canterbury were able to crack the Waikato defense once again as Hartley put Reuben Te Amo through a gaping hole to score untouched. Both teams going into the break at 12 points a piece.
In a tight fixture, the Bulls were the first to score in the second forty as utility Devaun Thompson burrowed his way over from dummy half to open the second half account. Joshua Afamasaga doubled the South Island’s sides advantage as he bulldozed his way under the post making it 24-12. With under ten minutes remaining, the Canterbury side went on a tear with Hornby Panther Eti Collins, Samuelu-Latu and Daniel Hartley all scoring as they ran away 42-12 winners.
Tries – Hartley x2, Te Amo, Thompson, Afamasaga, Collins, Samuelu-Latu
Conversions – Hartley 7/7
WAIKATO MANA 12
Tries – Mahinga Rangi x2
Conversions – McLean 2/2
10 September 2022
Old foes Akarana Falcons and the Counties Manukau Stingrays took the field for the first round of the NZRL National Premiership at Mount Smart Stadium.
Akarana started the game in fantastic form with Ollie Tuimavave, weaving his way through the defence with excellent footwork to put the first points on the board for the Falcons within the first 5 minutes.
Ill-discipline and costly errors from Counties Manukau in their own half resulted in the Falcons dotting down twice, with tries coming from halfback Eiden Ackland and lock Brody Tamarua. With 20 minutes gone, the Stingrays found themselves with their backs against the wall early. The game entered into an arm-wrestle with both sides able to complete their sets; however, due to Akarana giving away three penalties within their own half, a spirited Stingrays side were able to put their first points on the board with winger Mavae Manukia scoring in the corner.
A successful regather off a short kick-off saw Akarana attacking again in the Stingray’s half. Silky play from halfback Eiden Ackland gave ball-wrecking centre Chaz Brown enough space to bust through a two-man tackle and crash over the line to score his first try for the game.
Facing an uphill climb, Counties responded with their own try, with second rower Sione Fe’ao hitting a nice hole on his opposites inside shoulder to close out the first half.
The dominance continued for the Falcons in the second half as Akarana showcased their technical skill on the edge, putting Nicholas Halalilo over. Determined to mount a comeback, the Stingrays responded with a short kick-off, successfully regathered by Manukia, who made a spirited run to the 10-metre line of the Falcon’s half. Dominant runs from the Counties middles resulted in a beautiful back door play to put winger Alan Niulevu in for his first try of the game.
Strong runs out of the backfield from Akarana’s wingers Lewis Soosemea and Esom Ioka lead to the Counties’ defence scrambling. Falcon’s playmaker Kadiyae Ioka saw this as an opportunity to expose the defence, shifting the ball to the edge to centre Chaz Brown, who would go on to break the line and run 50-metres to grab his second try of the afternoon.
With eight minutes to go, Counties continued to demonstrate outstanding resilience despite the score. They were rewarded with another try to Mavae Manukia, which would close out the game, with the final score being 32-20 to Akarana Falcons.
30th October 2021
The sun was shining over Nga Puna Wai as favourites Canterbury and Upper Central Zone clashed with the NZRL National Competition trophy on the line.
Upper Central burst out of the blocks as late replacement Karly Karauna scored in just under two minutes to capitalise off a Canterbury mistake taking an early 4-0 lead.
Canterbury then began to warm into the game, getting on the front foot and converting through U20’s Canterbury representative Uriah Tuli as the Bulls went in front six points to four.
An untimely Canterbury error let the Stallions back into the affair, and fullback Denzil Manu converted that pressure into points which Canterbury would go on to regret. A few minutes later, backrower Kaisa Matautia bulldozed his way over the Canterbury line as Upper Central scored back-to-back and took hold of the game. Connor Hohepa converted to make it 14-6 in the 18th minute, a lead that the Stallions would take into the break.
Upper Central started the second stanza as they started the first as Matautia helped himself to a second, four minutes into the half.
The Stallion outfit continued to pile on the pressure asserting their will in the early stretches of the second half, and points followed. Stallion’s hooker Russell planted a deft grubber kick which he regathered and slickly offloaded to Johnson Peri, who barged his way over to extend the margin. Connor Hohepa made the score 26-6 with thirty minutes left, converting from the left side of the uprights.
Johnson Peri’s 40/20 marched Upper Central up the field and again resulted in points, this time, Matautia completed his hat trick on the left edge. Denzil Manu continued the onslaught as he pounced onto a superb attacking kick from Connor Hohepa and made his way over to extend the lead to 36-6 with just under 20 minutes remaining.
With only ten to go, Canterbury stand-out Penitito Ilalio forced his way over, with substitute Delane Luke scoring two minutes later to tighten the gap to 36-18.
A late try on the buzzer by Zion Kamana was not enough to seal a Canterbury comeback as the underdog Upper Central Zone went on to claim the NZRL Men’s National Competition title, winning 36-22.
12 October 2021
In light of Auckland remaining at Alert Level 3, Counties Manukau, Akarana and the Auckland Vulcans unfortunately cannot compete in the NZRL Men’s and Women’s National Competition for 2021.
No contact training is permitted at Alert Level 3; therefore, Auckland teams have insufficient time to prepare for a safe return to play.
NZ16s, NZ18s Girls and Schools v Clubs 18s matches scheduled for 13th – 14th November in Auckland have also been cancelled, with Auckland based players unable to participate in the representative weekend.
NZRL have considered pushing the representative weekend out to later in November; however, this impedes student exam time and scheduled summer sports events.
We will provide an update following Monday’s press conference regarding potential alternative playing opportunities for Auckland Youth teams (Alert Level dependent).
In the meantime, we encourage all those in Level 3 regions, Tāmaki Makaurau, Waikato and Northland, to stick to their bubbles, wear a face mask, and continue to abide by Covid protocol. Any person feeling unwell or presenting cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
NZRL will provide further detail on Waikato and Northland participation in this weekend’s National and Youth competitions following Wednesday’s press conference.
08 October 2021
There are no crowds permitted at any NZRL National or Youth Competiton games for the remainder of the four week season.
A blanket no crowd policy across the country is the safest option due to the continuously changing nature of Alert Levels for different regions participating in our competitions.
Our priority is to keep our players and communities safe while ensuring our competitions can continue.
We understand this is frustrating for those residing in regions currently at Alert Level 2, and we apologise for the inconvenience this causes.
However, some venues and local authorities within these regions still operate at a higher Alert Level despite eased gathering restrictions.
The current unpredictability of Alert Levels across the country means a blanket no crowd policy remains our best option in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all involved in our competitions.
This coming Monday, we will provide further detail on Waikato and Northland teams due to Northland’s move to Alert Level 3 at 11:59 pm tonight.
Any person feeling unwell or presenting cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
31 October 2020
A scrappy affair at the Trust’s Stadium saw the Upper Central Stallions look to end their undefeated season with a final win over rivals Auckland Vulcans. Defence was the meta in this game, as both sides showed heart and effort, forcing the opposition into mistakes.
An early mistake from Auckland Fullback Keri Ratima allowed the first opportunity for Upper Central but the defence stood firm, taking Upper Central captain Dorta Adams over the side-line.
A mistake off the next set from Auckland gave another chance for the Stallions and this time they made them pay. A sharp left-side shift saw Niu Milo put through fullback Autumn Stephens, who is arguably the most in-form player of the competition, untouched for the first points of the game. Trisha Tarsau-Hina unable to convert as the score remains 4-0 in the 3rd minute.
Opportunities were abundant for both sides throughout the half, but ball security and lack of discipline halted any side from crossing the line. Edge defence kept play through the middle and the aggressive nature of the game took over, with big hits causing many dropped balls.
Upper Central go into the sheds with the upper hand with a four-point lead over Auckland.
A great solo try from Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme-Smiler increased the Stallions advantage in the second forty. Honey showed her class and veteran savvy to take the game by the scruff of the neck and give her team an eight-point buffer. Tiria Anderson unable to convert, Stallions remained up by eight at the 42nd-minute mark.
Auckland marched down the field and received a penalty late in the set and after peppering the Stallions line were finally able to crack the stout defence. Half Kaylarnee Murray utilised her brilliant footwork to swerve through on the last and score next to the left upright. Hooker Jhana Magele slotted her conversion kick over to tighten the deficit to two.
The Vulcans then took their first lead of the game after a barnstorming break from Shontelle Woodman. Off the back of the break, a right side swing saw Tanika Noble take her chance as she went over to put the Vulcans in front with 20 to go. Conversion unsuccessful from Magele, score stood at 10-6 in favour of Auckland.
A mistake and crucial penalty in favour of the Stallions put them in ideal attacking position with five minutes to go. Stallion forward, Jayde August then bulldozed her way from the tap restart to put Upper Central back in the lead with only four minutes remaining. Stallions again unable to convert as they take a 12-10 lead going into the last phases of the game.
After a tantalising finish, The Upper Central Stallions did enough hold off a late surge from Auckland to capture their first National Women’s Championship trophy, the final score Upper Central Stallions 12 – Auckland Vulcans 10.
It was a dominant display across the park for Akarana in what was a must-win game for the reigning premiers to kick off round three of the NZRL Premiership.
Hooker Josiah Afu opened the scoring for the Falcons in the 11th minute, Chase Bernard’s 40 meter run from the kick-off set up Akarana’s second try to Jordan Te Aho. Back to back tries soon followed to Hoani Rogers-Brown and Solomon Vasuvulagi quickly making it 24 – 0.
Some possession to the home side saw Captain Pawhare Brown put Waikato on the board after a strong run through the middle, however, handling errors had the home side under the pump again as Siliga Kepaoa powered over for Akarana’s fifth try. Quickplay the balls from the Falcon’s forward pack put skipper Francis Leger over the line to make it 36 – 6 at the break.
The second half kicked off with a runaway try to Akarana winger Sam Fa’apito after a one on one strip, yet some possession to the home side saw Waikato gain momentum resulting in back to back tries making it 40 -18.
The momentum was short-lived as Akarana kicked into gear with tries to Chase Bernard and Matti Tuitama. Sam Fa’apito went over for his second making it 56 – 18 before David Dyer ran away with an intercept. Darren Kellett-Moore finished the scoring off for Akarana making it 66 – 18 at full time.
Day two of round three saw the Canterbury Bulls and Counties Manukau Stingrays play for a spot in the finals against the Akarana Falcons.
Canterbury will be happy campers coming away with the win 24-22 after tough back and forth contest. There was nothing between these teams, both heading to the tunnels at half time without a single point on the board.
First points came after a fiery start to the second half. The 44th minute saw Counties number 18 Richard Toa’i, finally break the Canterbury defence off the back of a penalty only a few meters from the try line. Counties followed up within minutes, James Dowie scoring in the corner.
The hosts weren’t giving up easily, biting back as they put their first points on the board. The try from Penetito Ilalio would close the gap. Pressure on Counties and frustrations building the 56th minute saw Counties Netane Vi, yellow carded for foul play. Counties then conceded twelve points within ten minutes.
With a full team back on the field, Counties Manukau stormed back to take the lead after two converted tries, leading with only five minutes left to play. Finals were on the line and Canterbury knew it, they would bravely strike back with a last minute try to close the match off 24-22
The Cantabrians send a strong message to their opposition that they mean business in 2019 as they seek to take away Akarana’s long term claim to the Premiership title.
Congratulations also to Wellington Orcas and Otago Whalers who will contest the Championship Final at Nga Puna Wai in Christchurch, prior to the Premiership Final.
NZRL Premiership final – Canterbury Bulls v Akarana Falcons 3pm
October 5th Nga Puna Wai Stadium in Christchurch
Live on Sky Sport
This afternoon, defending National Premiership champions Akarana will take on Counties in the 2018 National Premiership Final at 4pm at Mt Smart.
Northland will also challenge Waikato in the promotion/relegation game at 2pm in the curtain-raiser to the grand-final.
Grand final teams below:
Promotion/relegation teams below:
Finals fixtures tonight:
National Premiership Grand Final
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
4pm, 6 October
Akarana v Counties
2pm, 6 October
Akarana centre Naufahu Whyte proved why he’s one of the most talked about players at this tournament, after scoring five tries for the Falcons in their 30-18 win against the Central Vipers. Despite taking an early lead, the Falcons were made to work hard for the victory, with the Mid Central boys refusing to back down in the contest. The Falcons will carry their unbeaten record into day three, where they will face the South Island Scorpions for the top spot in Pool D. Griffin Neame and Caius Fa’atili helped power the Scorpions to an impressive 56-10 victory over the Northern Swords today.
Counties Manukau Stingrays 17s emerged victorious 26-16 in their battle with Auckland Vulcans. The scores remained locked at 16 all for the majority of the second half, until the Stingrays crossed twice in the closing stages to put the game out of reach. Tyrone Waipouri and Sione Moala leading the charge for the Stingrays to put them atop of Pool C. Similarly, today’s match between Wai-Coa-Bay and Wellington also went down to the wire, with the Orcas snatching a late 18-16 victory. The win has kept alive the Orcas semi-finals chances, and they’ll take on the Auckland Vulcans for the spot tomorrow morning.
In the 15s grade, Counties Manukau put the Wellington Orcas to the sword with a mammoth 46-0 victory. Navajo Doyle scored a hat-trick for the Stingrays, who are yet to concede any points after two days of competition. The Akarana Falcons 15s held on for a tight 14-6 win over the Central Vipers to also remain unbeaten. The Falcons and the Stingrays will face off tomorrow to decide who takes the top spot in Pool A.
The Auckland Vulcans 15s survived a bruising encounter with the South Island Scorpions to win their second match 18-4. Stanley Iongi a standout for the Vulcans from dummy-half, and South Island halfback Nikau Waikato directed the Scorpions well despite the loss. The Vulcans will now face a resurgent Wai-Coa-Bay 15s side tomorrow, who bounced back from yesterday’s loss to post a confidence-boosting 40-10 win over the Northern Swords. Tomorrow sees the final matches of pool play before semi-finals commence on Thursday. Full results and standings for the 2018 NZRL Youth Nationals posted below:
Akarana Falcons 14 (Wetini Walker-Takai, Essendon Tuitupou, Pita Wilson; Naisa Pahulu 1 goal) Central Vipers 6 (Kodie Albert-Papuni; Tawhiwhi Karaitiana 1 goal)
Counties-Manukau Stingrays 46 (Navajo Doyle 3, Carlos Tarawhiti, Ali Leiataua, Nui-Alinghi Peni, Kavan Thompson-Campbell, Savelio Fisiiloi, Albert Finau, D’jazirhae Pua’avase; Navajo Doyle 2 goals) Wellington 0
Auckland Vulcans 18 (Stanley Iongi 2, Tremein Campbell; Tremein Campbell 3 goals) South Island Scorpions 4 (Nikau Waikato)
Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 40 (Tahiwaru Puru, Te Whatiki Childs-Katene, Jarvis Hemopo, Image Tepania, Cassius Cowley, Te Wano Ngamotu-Tahana, Joseph O’Leary; Tome Poona 6 goals) Northern Swords 10 (Kaharau Atutolu 2; Jason Te Tai 1 goal)
Pool A Standings: Counties Manukau 4, Akarana 4, Central 0, Wellington 0
Pool B Standings: Auckland Vulcan 4, Wai-Coa-Bay 2, South Island 2, Northern 0
Akarana Falcons 30 (Naufahu Whyte 5 tries, Moala Graham-Taufa, Jeremiah Schuster; Samuel Kamu 1 goal) Central Vipers 18 (William Mitford, Kayin Katene, Arama Miller, Zamaya Lilo-Maru; Potene Rolls-Paewai 1 goal)
South Island Scorpions 56 (Griffin Neame 2, Caius Fa’atili 2, Levi Pascoe, Thomas McKenzie, Montel Lisula Peppard-Peopaati, Quentin Nahona-Brown, Kyle Amer, Jordan Aldridge; Caius Fa’atili 3 goals, Quentin Nahona-Brown 5 goals) Northern Swords 10 (Charme Henry-Turner, Eruera Shelford; Charme Henry-Turner 1 goal)
Counties Manukau Stingrays 26 (Kina Kepu 2, Taniela Otukolo, Sione Moala; Tyrone Waipouri 3 goals) Auckland Vulcans 16 (Tristan Tuilagi, Charles Laumape, Konrad Tu’ua, William Tutai; Tuinamo Tepulolo 2 goals)
Wellington Orcas 18 (Maui Wallace, Nathan Stirling, Ioritana Tusa, Dallas McEwan; Nathan Stirling 1 goal) Wai-Coa-Bay Colts 16 (Jay Te Kani, Jack Henry, Connor Dobbyn; Ceiza James 2 goals)
Pool C Standings: Counties Manukau 4, Auckland Vulcans 2, Wellington 2, Wai-Coa-Bay 0
Pool D Standings: South Island 4, Akarana 4, Central 0, Northern 0
The Canterbury Bulls may have had the best start to the National Premiership winning two from three games, but a 34-14 loss to the reigning Champions Akarana in round four has bumped the Bulls out of grand final contention.
Counties Manukau will take on Akarana in a rematch of the 2016 Premiership final on 6 October following the promotion and relegation deciding game. Although Akarana are defending champions, round three’s result between the two Auckland sides (36-22) had Counties come out on top which should make for a highly contested grand final showdown.
The National Championship went down to the wire with a 26-all round three result between the Otago Whalers and Northern Swords, but it didn’t end there. Otago and Northern battled it out for a chance to challenge the fourth place National Premiership team in a promotion and relegation game that, if won by the challenger, would see them move up into the National Premiership for the 2018 season.
Not even points differential could separate the Northern and Otago sides resulting in the Northern Swords going through to the match of their lives on point percentage.
Akarana 34 Canterbury 14
Waikato 22 Counties 46
Otago 26 Northern 26
Finals fixtures next week
The top dogs Akarana were knocked off their perch by Counties on the weekend in a 32-22 rough and tumble match.
After getting their first game jitters out of the way, the Stingrays have shown they’re a force to be reckoned with forcing the Falcons to accumulate a staggering penalty count over the 80 minute encounter.
Akarana will take on Canterbury next week who have picked up two wins in as many weeks, beating Waikato convincingly 52-6.
However, the game of the weekend would have to have been Otago’s two point win over Wellington (38-36).
All teams will be looking to put their best foot forward for this weekend ahead of next week’s grand-final on Saturday, 6 October.
Counties 36 Akarana 22
Canterbury 52 Waikato 6
Otago 38 Wellington 36
Fixtures this weekend:
Canterbury v Akarana
2pm, Saturday 29 September
AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Waikato v Counties
4pm, Sunday 30 September
FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Otago v Northern
4.15pm, Saturday 29 September
Northern Ground, Dunedin
It’s round two of the National Competition this Saturday with Wellington taking on Otago in the National Championship, Akarana face off against old foes Counties and Waikato head down south for their Canterbury match-up.
Team lists for this weekend (as of Friday) are below:
Canterbury v Waikato
2pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Akarana v Counties Manukau
Mt Smart Stadium 2
4pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Wellington v Otago
2pm, Saturday, 22 September 17, 2018
Petone Recreation Ground, Wellington
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 Waikatoâ€™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, Akaranaâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 teamâ€™s performance considering it was only last year they were promoted into the National Premiership.
â€œWeâ€™re super proud just to get into the final with the big boys and our province is proud of us too so weâ€™re happy with the campaign weâ€™ve had this year,â€
â€œThe brotherhood is as strong as ever with some new blood in our team – weâ€™ll be back next year to have another crack,â€ Jolley said.
Lifting the championsâ€™ shield for the second straight year, Akaranaâ€™s captain Philip Kingi was quick to thank his opposition.
â€œIâ€™d like to thank Waikato for a great game, they really deserved to be here and the score doesnâ€™t quite reflect their efforts this year,â€
â€œWe 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,â€ Kingi said.
MVP of the match: Taylor Daniels â€“ Akarana
1st/2ndÂ : Akarana v Waikato â€“ 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: