Welcome to the wrap up of the Tasman Rugby League Club season. The Grand-Final was held on Saturday on a beautiful sunny day at Champion Green, which was a stark contrast to last week’s semi0-final which saw Victory Phoenix take the final spot to face Wairau Taniwha.
Wairau Taniwha had already wrapped up the minor premiership trophy by finishing the round robin competition top of the table and they were hoping that they could make it a double by winning the Grand-Final. Both teams arrived at the ground excited and nervous. This was the game that mattered – the one that would decide who the 2018 champion would be.
In a tense opening to the game. Victory opened the scoring with a try to left winger Hamish Matthews after a cross field kick was regathered by Tainui Parata who managed to offload to Matthews to score. Victory extended the lead in the 15th minute with a try to Caleb Tauwhare after the Taniwha were penalised for being offside. From the ensuing set of six Tauwhare scored out wide on the left edge.
Victory continued to maintain pressure on the Taniwha. Their dominaance was further rewarded with a try to Tainui Parata who scored out wide after an error from the Taniwha gave Victory a fresh set of six.
The Victory goal kickers were having an unhappy day with the boot failing to add any of the conversions, thus making the score 12-0. Taniwha managed to make head way against the strong Victory defence. Their efforts were rewarded in the 31st minute when Phil Roberts went looking for work, scoring close to the ruck. Simon Duncan converted to make the score 12-6 which was the half time score.
Early in the second half both teams were hit by injury with Victory loose forward Isaiah Edmonds and Taniwha interchange player Taine Turnbull leaving the field meaning that both teams were working off a three man bench. On the 46th minute Jonny Delore made a break and although tackled, Victory took advantage of the disorganized Taniwha defence with Nate Boyd scoring. Jeff MacDonald added the conversion to reinstate the 12 point lead.
The lead was extended to 16 points when Jeff MacDonald crashed over from dummy half. The Taniwha worked hard to regain control, trying to chase the game throwing passes that they wouldn’t have normally passed and taking risks. Unfortunately this led to the Victory sixth try when their fullback Fabyan Noonan scored a 20 metre try when he beat four defenders.
As in previous games the Taniwha never gave up and a break by Jason Garlick led to a try to Ryan Craig right on the stroke of fulltime to make the final score 26-12 to Victory and a new name will be engraved on the TRL Cup.
It was a team effort from Victory with no individual player standing out. In the last 2 weeks. Victory have been playing controlled football which was fantastic to see. Full credit to the coaching team on bringing it all together in both the Semi Final and Grand Final. The win would be made more rewarding for the seven players who transferred from Wanderers Wolves after they were unable to field a team this season, including Rikki Swain who played in his seventh Tasman Grand Final for his second victory and Jason Kaisia, Nate Boyd and Fabyan Noonan who all took to the field in the Grand Final this year for Victory.
Wairau Taniwha also deserve praise for a fantastic season, which included the most travel of any of our teams. This year has seen them recruit a new group of young players who have helped boost their numbers and we look forward to seeing them back in 2019.