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.

 

POS TEAM P W L D B FOR AGST PD % PTS
1 CANTERBURY BULLS 3 3 0 0 0 98 46 52 213.04 6
2 AKARANA FALCONS 3 2 1 0 0 114 64 50 178.12 4
3 COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS 3 1 2 0 0 102 70 32 145.71 2
4 WAIKATO 3 0 3 0 0 40 174 -134 22.99 0

 

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:

AKARANA COUNTIES
No. FIRST NAME LAST NAME No. FIRST NAME LAST NAME
           
15 Cortez Taulu 1 Geronimo Doyle
2 James Taumata 2 Setu Tu
3 Chaz Brown 3 Rahiri Witehira
4 Nalu Tuigamala 4 Edward Kosi
5 Simon Luafalealo 5 Emeliano Mikaele
16 Francis Leger © 6 William Stowers ©
7 Dylan Tavita 7 Drew Radich
20 Kouma Samson 8 Connor Purcell
23 Sioeli Makaui 9 Sheldon Rogers
10 Chase Bernard 17 Jamel Hunt
11 Matti Tuitama 11 Nicholas Halalilo
12 Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan 12 Nicholas Wilson
13 David Bhana 14 Nofoasa Malutoa
No. RESERVES   RESERVES
19 Matthew Tafutu 10 Visesio Setefano
17 Kitiona Pasene 13 Kruz Tupou
21 Chris SIO 15 Luke Armiger
22 Salafuauli Falelua-Malio 16 Tayhler Paora

Promotion/relegation teams below:

WAIKATO NORTHERN
No. FIRST NAME LAST NAME No. FIRST NAME LAST NAME
1 Mahuta Ngataki-Matthews 1 Vincent Paul
2 Te Rongopai Murray 2 Levita Levita
3 Raana Dennis 3 Tesimoni Uilou
4 Jordan Tai Rakena 4 Kyle Hool
5 Teina Ngahiwi 5 Jaydon Kiernan
6 Darren Kingi 6 Verne Wilson ©
7 Duane Sykes 7 Jesse Epiha
8 Piripi PARANGI 8 Daley Johnson
9 Hayden Karena 9 Samuel Henry
10 Iwa Te Koi 10 Marley Mackay
11 Marcus Tahihohaia 11 Ross McFarlane
12 Evarn WATENE 12 Cyris Edwards
13 Tamainu Huirama © 13 Joel Freeman
No. RESERVES   RESERVES
14 Dallas Kutia 14 Sepeti Tatau
15 Malcolme Noda 15 Michael Salase
16 Duane Sykes 16 Taine-Lee Shelford
17 Reihana TAI-RAKENA 17 Manaaki Tawhiwhirangi

Finals fixtures tonight: 

National Premiership Grand Final

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

4pm, 6 October

Akarana v Counties

 

Promotion/Relegation game

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

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:

15s grade:

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

 

 

17s grade:

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.

National Premiership

Round three

Akarana 34 Canterbury 14

Waikato 22 Counties 46

  Played Win Lost Draw Scored Against Points Pts  diff %
NATIONAL PREMIERSHIP                  
AKARANA FALCONS 3 2 1 0 102 56 4 46 182%
COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS 3 2 1 0 100 64 4 36 156%
CANTERBURY BULLS 3 2 1 0 86 58 4 28 148%
WAIKATO 3 0 3 0 34 144 0 -110 24%

National Championship

Round three

Otago 26 Northern 26

 

Finals fixtures next week 

National Premiership Grand Final

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

4pm, 6 October

Akarana v Counties

 

Promotion/Relegation game

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

2pm, 6 October

 

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.

National Premiership 

Counties 36 Akarana 22

Canterbury 52 Waikato 6

 National Premiership Played Win Lost Draw Scored Against Points Pts  diff %
CANTERBURY BULLS 2 2 0 0 72 24 4 48 300%
AKARANA FALCONS 2 1 1 0 68 42 2 26 162%
COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS 2 1 1 0 54 42 2 12 129%
WAIKATO 2 0 2 0 12 98 0 -86 12%

National Championship 

Otago 38 Wellington 36

Northern BYE

 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP Played Win Lost Draw Scored Against Points Pts  diff %
NORTHERN SWORDS 1 1 0 0 16 14 2 2 114%
OTAGO WHALERS 1 1 0 0 38 36 2 2 106%
WELLINGTON ORCAS 2 0 2 0 50 54 0 -4 93%

 

Fixtures this weekend:

National Premiership

Canterbury v Akarana

2pm, Saturday 29 September

AMI Stadium, Christchurch

 

Waikato v Counties

4pm, Sunday 30 September

FMG Stadium, Hamilton

 

National Championship 

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:

National Premiership 
Canterbury v Waikato
Christchurch Stadium
2pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Canterbury                                                                                                                                       Waikato 

21 Tauvale Tauvale 1 Duane Sykes
2 Will YEOW 2 Te Rongopai Murray
3 Matt Sauni 3 Raana Dennis
4 Will TAFUA 4 Jordan TAI RAKENA
5 Ben ILALIO 5 Teina Ngahiwi
6 Toi SEPULONI 6 Darren Kingi
7 Brad CAMPBELL 7 Hayden KARENA
13 Rulon NUTIRA 8 Piripi Parangi
9 Alani KAKOI 9 Malcolme Noda
10 Alex TODD 10 Iwa Te Koi
11 Paul SAUNI 11 Marcus TAHIHOHAIA-MOSEN
19 Jope TAGICAKIBAU 12 Billy GUDGEON
12 James BAXENDALE © 13 Tamainu Huirama ©
No. RESERVES   RESERVES
14 Cyrus TIMO-LATU 14 Reihana Tai Rakena
15 Isaac MALIOTA 15 Evarn Watene
16 Reuben TE AMO 16 Eru Keepa
17 Roger TAFUA 17 Dale Verstappen

Akarana v Counties Manukau
Mt Smart Stadium 2
4pm, Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Akarana                                                                                                                                  Counties

1 Simon Luafalealo 1 Geronimo Doyle
2 James Taumata 2 Setu Tu
3 Chaz Brown 3 Rahiri Witehira
4 Nalu Tuigamala 4 Edward Kosi
5 James Waterson 5 Emeliano Mikaele
6 Francis Leger © 6 Drew Radich
7 Thomas Connick 7 William Stowers ©
8 Salafuauli Falelua-Malio 8 Connor Purcell
9 Dylan Tavita 9 Thomas Vaafusuaga
10 Chase Bernard 17 Jamel Hunt
11 Matti Tuitama 11 Nicholas Halalilo
12 Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan 12 Nicholas Wilson
13 Kouma Samson 13 Nofoasa Malutoa
No. RESERVES   RESERVES
14 Michael Ki 10 Visesio Setefano
15 Graeme Sue-Poe 14 Lui Tusa
16 Rory Ropati 16 Luke Armiger
17 Chris Sio 17 Tayhler Paora

National Championship 
Wellington v Otago
2pm, Saturday, 22 September 17, 2018
Petone Recreation Ground, Wellington

Wellington                                                                                                Otago 

Aaron Whitikia         1 1         Finn Langdale
Samasoni (Lui) Afaamasaga         2 2         Mikal Tuari
Joey Oti         3 3         Tama Apineru
Greig Dean         4 4         Benjamin Hanara
Feofaaki (Aki) Tuangalu         5 5         Willie Time
Xavier Seal         6 6         Louis Tili
Tamati Davis         7 7         Owen Draper
Takua Faauga         8 8         Ricki Allan
Trei Mu         9 9         Andre Kemp
Johnny Skinnon         10 10         Camrin Brown
Isope Manu         11 11         Jong Lee
Dane Cooper         12 12         Joshua Mckenzie
Leoititi Fuimaono         13 13         Hagan Free
Satch Pryor         14 14         Tayla Hazlett
Tana Filo         15 15         Marcel Taani
Jeremy Mckee         16 16         Benjamin Rumble
Zane Wilson         17 17         Apii Taia
  • 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