They may have done it the hard way, but the Pikiao Warriors have beaten the Pacific Sharks 10-8 in thrilling fashion today to be crowned the Coastline/Bay of Plenty premier champions.

Trailing 8-6 and stuck in their own half, with seconds left to play, Pikiao looked resigned to second place.

Step up Noel Te Rangi.

Morena, Rose. Share away.

Posted by Pita Christiansen on Saturday, 12 August 2017

On the back of a strong run up the middle by captain Raureti Grace, Pikiao spread the ball left where Te Rangi hit a gap and raced 50m to score the match-winning try and send the raucous home crowd wild.

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It was a heartbreaking loss for Pacific, who looked the better team for the majority of the game.

The Sharks started the game well and had a try within the first five minutes. On the back of a penalty near halfway they worked their way into the Pikiao 20m before shifting the ball right for centre Dylan Shortland to go over in the corner.

Minutes later they had their second when first-five Kale Pomare broke a tackle and put on some footwork to score.

Neither try was converted, which came back to haunt Pacific in the long run.

After a nervy start Pikiao began to work their way back into the game and had many opportunities to score. However, a combination of their own errors and an inspired Pacific defensive line prevented them getting on the scoreboard and they trailed 8-0 at halftime.

The second half was all Pikiao as they threw everything at Pacific, who invited pressure on themselves with errors inside their own half.

Chasing the game is never easy and, despite having all the territory and possession, the Warriors just could not find a way over the line. Pacific built a defensive wall and held out wave after wave of attack.

That is until Pikiao front row forward Scott Evans ran onto an inside ball on the left-hand side of the field and crashed over the try line under the attention of three tacklers.

ECSTATIC: Pikiao players celebrate the win. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
ECSTATIC: Pikiao players celebrate the win. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

The try was converted and with the score at 8-6 it was game on.

Pikiao continued to fight for the try that would give them the lead, while Pacific had opportunities of their own to put the game beyond doubt.

It looked like the Sharks had done enough, but Pikiao are no strangers to comeback victories this season and they did it again with that match-winning miracle play.

There were incredible scenes when the referee blew the whistle for fulltime, as Pikiao supporters, who have stuck with their side through the highs and lows of the last few seasons, ran onto the field to celebrate with their heroes.

RESPECT: Pikiao and Pacific players and supporters face off in hakas after the final whistle. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
RESPECT: Pikiao and Pacific players and supporters face off in hakas after the final whistle. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Pikiao coach Jason Parata said the win felt "awesome".

"It's a relief too, the stress of the last two weeks has been a lot - not much sleep.

"Today I don't think we played well at all in the first, in the second half we still panicked a bit. We were lucky to have some good mature heads out there - Te Kaiaotea Tahuriorangi, our replacement halfback, has been there, done that so it was good," Parata said.

Pikiao captain Raureti Grace was proud of the way his team kept fighting for the win.

"We had our backs to the wall in the first half but it's an 80 minute game and we managed to grind it out.

"Our saying this year was 'I'll work hard for you, you work hard for me' and it showed out there. The culture this year has been awesome, it was a real big turnaround from the dark days that we had, it's a family environment.

"A big thank you to our supporters - without them we couldn't have done it. When we were in the changing rooms we could hear them out here doing their chants, that gives you a bit of extra energy.

"We always knew Pacific would be hard and they bring a truckload of supporters. Full respect to them, they've always been the benchmark and they're good guys," Grace said.