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Teams who were cream of the crop

Peter Rabo heading in the winning goal in the 2011 Chatham Cup final. PHOTOS/FILE

COGGIE’S CALL

In my last instalment of my inaugural inductees into a Wairarapa Sports Hall of Fame, it’s time to focus on team success.

Like the other categories, which teams to leave out is incredibly challenging, but here are my first five.

Wairarapa United
2011 Chatham Cup win

Coach Phil Keinzley celebrating Wairarapa United’s Chatham Cup victory.

Wairarapa United shocked the national football scene to claim New Zealand Football’s most prized trophy with an unlikely victory.

After going through their three Central region rounds unscathed, United drew leading Auckland team Waitakere City at home.

A large crowd braved bitterly cold conditions at Carterton’s Howard Booth Park as United dominated the Aucklanders to win 4-1.

Next up was the toughest of semifinals away to Bay Olympic in Auckland. The only goal of the game, to Seule Soromon early in the second half, was enough to have United through to their first final, although they had to survive a red card to Peter Rabo late in the second half.

Three thousand passionate Wairarapa fans descended on Palmerston North’s Memorial Park for the final against Napier City Rovers.

Soromon gave United a first-half lead, before Napier equalised after 67 minutes.

A long clearance from goalkeeper Matt Borren caught the Napier defence napping in the 86th minute and Rabo coolly headed past the stranded Napier goalkeeper to secure a famous victory.

Wairarapa-Bush 1981

Greg Karaitiana, right, was a strong contributor to Wairarapa-Bush’s 1981 march to NPC First Division status.

If you asked the modern generation of rugby players to front up for three must-win games in eight days, you would politely be sent on your way.

But that was the task that faced the 1981 Wairarapa-Bush team if they were going to make the NPC First Division.

Wai-Bush and Taranaki went into the final game of the North Island second division unbeaten, and the winner would go on to play South Canterbury three days later.

The green and reds prevailed 15-6 through tries to Carlos Baker, Greg Karaitiana, and Bunter Anderson.

South Canterbury were swept aside 16-0, with tries to Joe Wyeth, Karaitiana, and Jimmy Cotter.

Next up were the First Division wooden-spooners Southland at Invercargill.

A Merv Dudley try gave Wai-Bush a 6-0 halftime advantage but three penalties gave Southland a late 9-6 lead. That was until Baker broke hometown hearts with a brilliant try to secure a 10-9 win and first division status.

Wairarapa Ranfurly Shield 1928-29

All Blacks great Bert Cooke was a star of Ranfurly Shield-winning Wairarapa teams in the late 1920s. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Much has been written about the 1927 Wairarapa Ranfurly Shield side that ended Hawke’s Bay’s 24-match tenure, and then lost and won the Log o’ Wood in the Battle of Solway.

Canterbury had won the shield from Manawhenua in the last challenge of 1927 and had repelled South Canterbury in the first challenge of 1928.

Tries to Bert Cooke and R Jury were enough to take the shield home from Christchurch.

Wairarapa then repelled challenges from Bush, Marlborough, Wellington, Manawhenua [2], Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, and Canterbury, before a surprise 19-16 loss to Southland at Carterton in the last challenge of 1929.

As many as 11 Wairarapa players represented New Zealand from that era.

Wairarapa-Bush 1985

In the days when All Blacks still regularly turned out for their provincial unions, for a union to finish fourth in the first division of the national championship was an outstanding achievement, especially one of Wai-Bush’s size.

Prospects for a strong showing were evident early on with a 13-12 win over Wellington in a traditional early season clash.

Wairarapa-Bush kicked off their championship campaign in the best possible way with a 13-9 victory over a powerful Canterbury side at Masterton.

A loss to Bay of Plenty and a win over Counties away were followed by a controversial 16-6 loss to Auckland at Memorial Park.

A win over Southland at home was followed by defeats to Waikato and Manawatu, and with three games remaining, a low table finish looked likely.

Then Wai-Bush beat North Auckland at home, and Otago in Dunedin.

That left Wellington at Athletic Park, and the finish was the stuff fairy tales are made of.

The home side led with time almost up, only for Wai-Bush to launch one final attack. Wing Mike Foster scored by the posts, leaving it for Mark Benton to slot the conversion for a 20-19 win.

Wairarapa Hawke Cup cricket 1977-79

The 1977 Wairarapa Hawke Cup winning side. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Wairarapa went to Invercargill in February 1977 to challenge a Southland side, who had not lost a game in 14 challenges for the Hawke Cup, minor associations’ most prized trophy.

The defenders had an early supremacy and took a valuable first innings advantage.

Wairarapa’s second innings established a 195-run lead, well within Southland’s capability.

Southland’s top three batsmen were all back in the pavilion for 22 runs, a position they never recovered from, eventually all out for 129, giving Wairarapa an outright win by 65 runs.

Wairarapa’s first defence was won by 65 runs against the strong Northland team, which included New Zealand opener Glenn Turner.

Wairarapa repelled further challenges from Nelson, Hamilton, Hutt Valley, South Canterbury, and Poverty Bay, before they surrendered the trophy to Nelson in 1979.

Like the other categories, there are plenty of other worthy contenders.

Who would be in you inaugural 20 inductees? Let me know.

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