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Wai-Bush finish runners-up

Johnny Falloon [with ball] was one of only three division two players to make the tournament team. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


Charlie Carroll scored the try that levelled the scores. PHOTO/ SUPPLIED

Wairarapa-Bush finished a controversial second in the Hurricanes Youth Council division two championship after their final with Poverty Bay ended in a 17-17 draw.

The team, coached by Jonathon Tanner and Paddy Gluck, went into last week’s tournament at the impressive Campus of Innovation and Sport in Upper Hutt full of confidence after winning the inaugural North Island Heartland tournament against East Coast, Thames Valley, and King Country.

Led by standout No 8 Mitchell Shields, electric first-five Le’Sharne Reiri- Paku and powerful centre Charlie Carroll, Wai-Bush had beaten Whanganui 33-5 the previous weekend to start the tournament. They then beat East Coast 30-12 to qualify for the final.

Poverty Bay made the better start in the Saracens Cup final, which was played in frigid temperatures and snow flurries, and went out to a 12-0 lead on the back of some well-structured attack before a penalty to Zach Ratuki put the ‘Green and Reds’ on the board. Poverty Bay then scored again to lead at halftime 17-3.

The second half belonged to Wai-Bush, and they stormed back into the game after 15 minutes of sustained pressure with a try under the posts to Shields, who busted through three would-be tacklers and dived over for an easy conversion for Ratuki and a 10-17 scoreline.

They continued their physical onslaught and were rewarded with a brilliant try to Carroll, who ran through some limp defence and scored under the posts, with Ratuki’s conversion levelling the scores.

The final 10 minutes were tense, and possession switched between the teams. Wai-Bush had their chances to sneak a victory with two long-range penalty attempts and came close with the second hitting the post.

As the referee blew the final whistle, both teams seemed stunned a result would not be decided on the pitch. After some deliberations, it was announced that Poverty Bay were the champions due to their higher point differential throughout the tournament.

Rathkeale lock Johnny Falloon was named in the tournament team, one of only three players from the second division to achieve that accolade.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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