League: Slippery Eels get away from Chiefs

By Lisa Adlam

It was the clash of the Titans in the Bay of Plenty district rugby league under-15 final at the weekend.

Played in front of a vocal crowd at Puketawhero Park, Otumoetai Eels used their size and strength to out-muscle Ngongotaha Chiefs to win the title 28-24.

While Ngongotaha had home ground advantage to go with their speed and agility, their opponents were a much larger and stronger team and they took advantage of this at every opportunity.

Otumoetai Eels coach Stan Nicholas said despite the fact Ngongotaha were fast, the Eels had the upper hand by playing a "forwards game" - something they have done all season.

With the Eels ahead by two points at halftime, the pressure came on Ngongotaha to up the ante. But despite some fast ball play and excellent defence to hold the opposition off their tryline for several sets, the Eels outmuscled the Chiefs to score a final unconverted try in the last minutes of the game.

An elated Nicholas said it was the hardest game of the season.

"We were happy we got the win, it could of gone either way. Ngongotaha gave us a good go, but I'm proud of how we played."

Ngongotaha coach Paul Nahu agreed it was a hard but even match.

"This was always going to be our hardest game as the Eels have been the top team all season."

Nahu was equally impressed with his young side but conceded size did matter in the end. "Making the finals was a big achievement, we were the smallest team in the competition and the Eels were simply too big up front and difficult to contain," he said.

Although feeling the hurt of losing the final, Nahu said he was pleased with his team.

"I am extremely proud of Ngongotaha's commitment and desire to take it to [Eels]. The team played above their weight, yet played with a great deal of tenacity and skill but unfortunately the bigger team won," he said.

Nahu commended the Eels, adding he believed that between the teams there were sure to be more than a few "bright stars" of the future.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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