Rugby League: Outkasts take out Tamatea

By Doug Laing

With a potentially match-winning try disallowed in the last minute, Tamatea Arikinui coach Adrian Rowlands might normally have been popping a few blood vessels after the favourites were downed by underdogs Outkast Sports in Saturday's Hastings - Heart of Hawke's Bay Premier rugby league final.

But there were hints of neither anger nor animosity as Rowlands leant forward after what might have been one of the best club finals he's seen in more than 25 years of rugby league in the Bay, and possibly one he wanted to win more than any other.

"Just one call," he said after the big match was won 16-12, three tries to two, by Outkast Sports, a club in existence less than three years, and formed in a split from Tamatea which has dominated Hawke's Bay rugby league for more than a decade.

"Just one call," he repeated, leaning forward. "But wasn't it a bloody good game of rugby league."

No one would have disagreed in a crowd of more than 1400 at Bill Mathewson Park in Hastings, where six finals were played in the curtain call of Rugby League Hawke's Bay's spring-season competition.

With quality defence immediately setting a contrasting tone to that of the many high-scoring affairs in the seven-round minor premiership, defending champions Tamatea were kept scoreless for 13 minutes before hooker and former Hawke's Bay Unicorns captain Colin Hokianga scored the first of his two tries.

Goaled by Haizley Robson and replied to 12 minutes later when Johnny Robbin scored on the right wing for Outkast, Tamatea led 6-4 at halftime in a game well-controlled by referee and former Unicorns player Darren Sage.

Almost from the time Outkast scored again with a try to hooker Tavito Fomai two minutes into the second half, 10-6 with the goal, the question was being asked of Tamatea about how they could handle the big men of the opposition, particularly with a defence that wasn't about to leave a gap to the tryline.

The next 15 minutes, spent mainly in Outkast territory without reward, foretold the outcome, a man being held up over the line in one incident and another losing the ball in the lunge for the try.

Outkast went the length of the field to plant the reply, a try to wing Setu Kerete, to which standoff Ausage Fomai added the goal to create a 10-point buffer going into the last quarter.

Hokianga's second try and another Robson goal closed it back to four with seven minutes to go. The man to feature most in the remainder was lineman and veteran referee Andy Cracknell, picking-up a forward pass which stopped Outkast scoring at one end and moments later another, stopping Tamatea tying the scores.

Big Outkast forward Peniasi Tokakece, back in the country just two days after a Fiji Barbarians Sevens rugby trip to Sri Lanka, was in dynamic form for Outkast, while two to stand out for Tamatea were jockey-sized fullback Tyson Johnson and wing Wiremu Houia.

Former Tamatea players Don Poloa and Anaru Bartlett coached Outkast and both played, Bartlett saying defence was targeted as the team stepped up in the league skillset, from players drawn from largely from four Premier grade rugby union sides.

The club, Reserve grade winners two years ago and beaten Premier finalists last year, had four teams in Saturday's finals, also claiming the 15s title with their team's 50-12 win over Wairoa College.

The Reserve grade final was a triumph for Hastings Rugby and Sports, with a last-gasp win over Omahu Huia. Down 28-26 with three minutes to go before wing, 2007 Hawke's bay Unicorns rugby league representative Cory Vainu scored the most crucial of his three tries to post a 30-28 win.

Bridge Pa, formed as a league club just two years ago, was the only other club to claim two titles, beating Outkast 50-12 in the 17s final, and 40-28 in the 13s match.

Tamatea did manage one victory, however, their women's team winning their grade for a third time in a row and eighth time in nine years, with a 41-10 final victory over Tech Seals.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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