Rangataua are new Baywide Premier 1 champions

By Peter White

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Rangataua Sports are the Baywide Premier 1 club champions after a stunning 35-33 win over Mount Maunganui Sports in the final played at Blake Park on Saturday.

The proud club from the Maungatapu peninsula had made just one final in the Baywide Premier competition since it began in 1990 but they made this one count with an unforgettable performance.

It was a final fit to grace any sporting stage. There were 10 tries scored and courageous defence from the first to last whistle from referee Shane McDermott, who controlled the final well with a good feel for the occasion.

Rangataua's Alex Jessop has his eye on the prize as he makes a run for it in the Baywide rugby final against Mount Maunganui. Photo/Andrew Warner
Rangataua's Alex Jessop has his eye on the prize as he makes a run for it in the Baywide rugby final against Mount Maunganui. Photo/Andrew Warner

Mount Maunganui had been the top team in the competition since round one back in March and came into the match, held at their home ground, after easily accounting for Rotoiti last week.

Conversely Rangataua had needed to work hard to win every game this season, with many victories achieved in the final minutes. Last week's semifinal win over Tauranga Sports exemplified that spirit which meant so much during Saturday's epic final.

They had a fair portion of nearly 1500 supporters packed into Blake Park and at times it seemed like their home game such was the volume of support from their whanau.

The opening salvo from the kick-off saw Mount Maunganui off to the perfect start. First-five Pera Gibbs' speculative high kick was dropped and he kicked ahead to win the chase to the line.

His conversion gave an early 7-0 lead that lasted three minutes before Rangataua halfback turned pick-pocket Alex Jessop stole the ball off a Mount forward to sprint away to score.

Then a moment of magic from Mount Maunganui fullback Mason Walker saw him skin three defenders with his electric pace to link with Gibbs who put halfback Jonty Woods under the bar.

Up 14-5 the Mount Maunganui supporters could relax couldn't they? No chance.

Led by charging runs from captain and openside flanker Matt Clutterbuck and No 8 Carlin Tata, Rangataua got three fine tries scored by Timoti Gardiner, Julian MacLeod and Teina Hika to lead 24-14 at halftime.

HISTORY MADE: Rangataua's Josh Te Kani, centre, leads the haka after the Baywide Premier 1 final victory over Mount Maunganui Sports on Saturday. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER 060816aw09BOP
HISTORY MADE: Rangataua's Josh Te Kani, centre, leads the haka after the Baywide Premier 1 final victory over Mount Maunganui Sports on Saturday. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER 060816aw09BOP

Mount Maunganui needed to score first but it was the team known as Papaka after the crab on the club's crest that took control.

From the kick-off they controlled possession and were rewarded with a try to Paranihi Lovett after a driving maul over the Mount try line.

Another sweeping move involving Clutterbuck, Kemble Frost, Dave Bayly, Hika and Lovett led to a penalty which Jessop converted for a dominant 32-14 lead.

But Mount Maunganui quickly got back into the game by holding the ball for long phases. No 8 Tamanui Hill crossed after Wood set him up nicely to close the gap to 32-21.

Another Jessop penalty stretched the lead back to 14 points before Hill was in again with 15 minutes to play.

Somehow Rangataua defended their line for eight long minutes before winger Brynn Uriarau scored with time almost up.

Rangataua kicked off but reclaimed possession to fittingly end the game on attack to claim the title.

The excellent spirit between the clubs was evident with a rousing haka from both teams that put the final seal on what was a magnificent end to the club season.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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