Three championship titles, 100 years and a 21st birthday - Te Puna Rugby Football Club had many milestones to celebrate on Saturday.

The 2019 Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Men's premier final between Te Puna and Tauranga Sports was a match that could have gone to either team right up until the 60-minute mark.

However, it was birthday boy Rewita Biddle, who turned 21 on Saturday, who turned the game around just minutes later. Although he had come close to scoring in the first 20 minutes of the game, twice, it wasn't until 64 minutes deep that his speed and footwork had the chance to shine, scoring his first of two tries of the game. His second was followed just a few minutes later and would be the final points of the game.

Te Puna's 23-10 win of that premiership match was their third title of the season, becoming triple 2019 Bay of Plenty champions in the Senior Reserves, Development and Premier divisions in their 100 years as a club.


Despite the score, the match was not as one-sided as it may seem, with moments of uncertainty for most of the game.

Tauranga Sports were first to put points on the board with a try and conversion within the first 10 minutes - but that would be the visitors' only try of the match.

Rewita Biddle makes his way to make one of his two tries. Photo / Andrew Warner
Rewita Biddle makes his way to make one of his two tries. Photo / Andrew Warner

There were clear hopes for Rewita Biddle when he took possession in those first few minutes, getting through three defenders in one run, showing his speed and using his impressive footwork. But he was unable to convert his skills to points in both attempts.

Jordy Stone scored first for Te Puna, coming from the back of the scrum and straight to the try line. The first failed conversion would set the tone for their conversions for the rest of the game. Adding an extra three points and another try from Hunter Mokomoko, Te Puna took the lead with just minutes left before the end of the first half.

Going into the second half, Te Puna were leading 13-7, but it was still anyone's game, and when Tauranga Sports were awarded a penalty seven minutes in, narrowing their deficit to three points, the game became even more unpredictable.

Fast forward to 60 minutes and Biddle turned the game around, scoring another try for Te Puna, which he backed up with a second try less than five minutes later.

At the end of the match, the excitement was clear. Te Puna fans ran on to the field at the end of the 82 minutes and 28 seconds of the game to celebrate with their team.

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Te Puna are the 2019 premier champions.

After three years as head coach, Aidan Kuka was ecstatic with the win, shedding tears of joy.

"It's awesome, it'll be a huge moment for us as a club, we've always dreamed of this," Kuka told NZME straight after the game.

"I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of boys to coach," he said.

Te Puna head coach Aidan Kuka watches the action. Photo / Andrew Warner
Te Puna head coach Aidan Kuka watches the action. Photo / Andrew Warner

Kuka said the game was always going to be tough, with "moments of brilliance" from Ōpōtiki's Biddle and plenty of passion all players.

"[Biddle] just needs the ball and some space."

Biddle, who has been with the club for the three years under Kuka as coach, was thrilled to have been part of the milestone.

"Everyone looked like we wanted it so bad."

The budding sevens player, who joined Te Puna after coming to Tauranga to study, said he was happy they were able to win for the team and the Te Puna community.

Te Puna celebrate a try to Rewita Biddle. Photo / Kristin Macfarlane
Te Puna celebrate a try to Rewita Biddle. Photo / Kristin Macfarlane

Tauranga Sports assistant coach Culum Retallick said the team started well but was disappointed come away with a loss. He said many people had not expected them to reach the finals this season and was proud of the boys for getting there.

Although they couldn't take the win, he was happy for Te Puna and planned to enjoy a few beers with their opposition before heading back to their own club.

The Results:
FPremier 1 Final: Te Puna 23 vs Tauranga Sports 10
Premier 1 Development Final: Te Puna 48 vs Te Puke Sports 17
Premier 2 Final: Te Teko 45 vs Marist St Michael's 17
Premier 2 Development Final: Ngongotahā 36 vs Te Teko 5
Division 1 Final: Paroa 16 vs Judea 8
Division 2 Final: Katikati 17 vs Edgecumbe 25