Rugby: Westlake Boys regain ASB Championship Cup

By Campbell Burnes

Photo / Brett Phibbs
Photo / Brett Phibbs

It was an Inisi family benefit as Westlake BHS regained the ASB Championship Cup for North Harbour First XV supremacy.

They last held it in 2014 but, aside from a hairy opening 15 minutes, were mostly in control of the final against Massey High School at QBE Stadium in the curtainraiser to the Mitre 10 Cup opener. Second five and man of the match Fini Inisi scored a hat-trick, while his brother, No 8 Lotu Inisi, also dotted down in the 34-3 shutout.

For all that, if Massey had not been denied two tries early on and copped a rough call at the other end of the field for Fine Inisi's third, it may have been a very different picture.

At least one of Massey's tries looked fine, but there was certainly a forward pass for Inisi's third try.

Fullback Mac Pisi, first five Nikau Drage and captain and No 6 Christian Lio-Willie all looked penetrative with the ball, but some of the Massey passing was dusty, and they struggled to contain Fine Inisi all night.

The Westlake pack gradually took control via the likes of prop Leon Thambiran, and they squeezed the underdog to annex their fourth title in five seasons and 15th in all. They played the best, most consistent rugby all season, and dropped only one match.

Inisi's hat-trick is worth recounting: the first was a breakout and set up by his wing Spencer McDowall, who put in a judicious kick which bounced kindly; the second saw Inisi slice through off a sweet offload by his centre Baylee Katipa, and the third was dubious, an in-pass from wing Arikitoia Hood-Kaitapu which went to TMO but was ruled good.

There was a vocal crowd of around 2000 on hand, but not sparking quite the same atmosphere as the Westlake-Rosmini finals, probably due to the fact that the result was decided before halftime.

The TMO was called upon more often than virtually any other televised First XV in the last few seasons as referee Danny Morrison sought clarification on forward passes, knock-ons and obstructions.

Westlake BHS 34 (Fine Inisi 3, Lotu Inisi, Casey Smith, Harry Forbes tries; Keepa Wiki 2 con) Massey 3 (Miracle Naititi pen) HT: 24-3

- NZ Herald

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