Racism row: West Coast club final goes ahead without incident

By Brendon McMahon

South Westland win possession from Kiwi during the second half. Photo / Greymouth Star
South Westland win possession from Kiwi during the second half. Photo / Greymouth Star

For one thing, the weather was dirty and as crowds gathered today for the West Coast club final between rivals South Westland and Hokitika Kiwi it might have been another kind of game.

However a loyal crowd buzzed over the atrocious playing conditions for what was the match of the season, at Greymouth Rugby Park.

Interest in the final piqued this week for all the wrong reasons -- would South Westland who had twice defaulted to Kiwi following controversy over alleged racism show up?

However they did and what was played was good clean rugby. A solid pack of about 600 were there to support -- and persistant rain kept everyone at bay.

Hokitika Kiwi march onto the field to meet their South Westland rivals. Photo / Greymouth Star
Hokitika Kiwi march onto the field to meet their South Westland rivals. Photo / Greymouth Star

The club final at Greymouth Rugby Park between the Hokitika Kiwi Club side, 40km to the south, and that of the Hari Hari based South Westland side -- 111km to south of Greymouth -- was a well fought game.

Accusations of racism against the predominately brown Hokitika side apparently from their South Westland rivals --which include a number of Polynesian players -- have hung like a pall over the West Coast Rugby Union in recent weeks.

But today all the hooha was barely evident and the meeting was tight and clean.
One spectator described the the match as "well fought" and "clean".

"It was just rugby," he said.

A solitary police patrol made a quick circuit to survey proceedings. Photo / Greymouth Star
A solitary police patrol made a quick circuit to survey proceedings. Photo / Greymouth Star

Both sides scored early but South Westland then dominated through the first half.

Athough the southern side had good possession to half time it missed opportunities to captitalise: a favourable penalty in their favour was reversed to Kiwi and South Westland lost a player to the sin bin before dropping a favourable try in front of the posts which ultimately cost them the game.

In the next half things shifted. The southern team possessed the ball in the first 10 minutes but dropped off as Kiwi gained momentum and kept the game near their try line.

Kiwi didn't win every opportunity however, turning down two penalties right in front of the posts.

However it utltimately kept up the pressure, pushing through to score a try 14 minutes from the end and again in the last 60 seconds, clinching the game in their favour 17-9.

West Coast rugby commentator Tui Bromely this week described Kiwi as the dominant side for the past two seasons who had missed their moment of glory at the finals after they "cracked under pressure".

A solitary police patrol made a quick circuit to survey proceedings. Photo / Greymouth Star
A solitary police patrol made a quick circuit to survey proceedings. Photo / Greymouth Star

The sceptre of abuse at last year's West Coast final in Greymouth toward Kiwi players from supporters of another local side had continued to dog the Hokitika side.

"It is ironic -- given the situation in last year's final when the heclking was particularly obscene and worthy of prosecution -- that Kiwi, the most abused side in recent history, is under investigation by the West Coast Rugby Union for alleged racism," Bromely said.

Immediately after today's game jubilant Kiwi coach and player Troy Tauwhare noted that the side had been "tolerating a bit of adversity...but we got back to rugby".

There was also a vote of thanks to the West Coast Rugby Union, "for all you've done".

West Coast Rugby Union president John Goulding was diplomatic and paid tribute to both sides, describing it as "a good finale".

"It might be a cliche, but it was a game of two halves," he said. "Kiwi deservedly won right at the end."

- Greymouth Star

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 26 Feb 2017 19:14:29 Processing Time: 1061ms