HASTINGS East captain and halfback Conor Gallagher was on a mission at the Wakely Shield rugby tournament which finished in Taradale today.
"After finishing second last year I wanted to help the team win the shield this year," the Hastings Intermediate School Year 8 student said.
Gallagher not only ticked that goal off at the 15th edition of the annual under-50kg tournament, which is played to honour Taradale matriarch Adele Wakely's 50-plus years contribution to the code. He won the Josh Kronfeld Medal for the player-of-the-tournament.
"I was proud of myself and the team. I knew we had a chance in the final if we played like we did in our semifinal yesterday when we beat Napier West 41-10. We managed to do that," Gallagher said.
A first-year Tamatea 12th grader this season, Gallagher, has played rugby since the fifth grade and played at the Havelock North club before linking up with Tamatea. He will begin his secondary school studies at St John's College next year.
He was one of six Hastings East players named in the tournament team.
"I think the whole team deserves a celebration dinner now," Gallagher added before they headed off to the Havelock North club for a barbecue-pizza dinner.
Unbeaten favourites Progressive Meats Hastings East pipped NZ Home Loans Napier East 20-17 in the final. Jubilant winning coach Dan Gallagher described the match as "a great final full of typical finals rugby".
His troops led 10-5 at halftime and lost lock Jonah Cooper 20 minutes into the second half with a suspected broken foot.
"We had no real superstars today ... it was just a really good team effort particularly on defence," Gallagher added.
Hastings East led for the entire match. Second five-eighth David Herd scored two tries and winger Tiongo Itintarawa the other. Captain and halfback Conor Gallagher kicked a conversion and penalty.
The match had to be transferred to another field when in-form Napier East winger Preston Watson collected a double fracture of the wrist while making a try-saving tackle five minutes before halftime. He was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital by ambulance.
Napier East captain and openside flanker Cramer Hannen and vice captain and halfback Campbell Rodgers led their side with aplomb. Utility Oliver Beale, prop George Hancy and hooker Maddox Lui were others to shine in a team which had no passengers.
Beale scored a try and kicked a conversion. Lui and No 8 Charlie Nash also scored tries.
Solenis NZ Napier West beat Countdown Hastings West 28-12 in the playoff for third. Busy No 8 Ben Campbell and lock Harry Keighley were an inspirational pair in the Napier West pack. Alex Barra, vice-captain Carter Frame-Tavita, Jontay Ferguson and Lucas Stok scored Napier West's tries and Jacob Cotter kicked four conversions.
Hastings West coach Craig Wellington said his troops produced another gutsy effort and he was proud of the way they improved throughout the tournament.
Tims Construction Saracens beat Tumu ITM Dannevirke 17-0 in the playoff for fifth. Fred Laugeson was again prominent for Saracens in both the lock and second five-eighth positions.
His physicality levels were admirable and his defence rock-like. Winger Kane Ngawhare, who scored two tries, and blindside flanker James Dowley were others to shine.
Centre Aidan Cairns scored Saracens other try and first five-eighth Jack McFetridge kicked a conversion.
Locks Te Ariki Tangiwai and Lane Small joined No 8 Dougal Radford as the pick of the Dannevirke players. Their coach, Lincoln Barnes, was thrilled with the side's efforts throughout the week in their first appearance at the tournament and pointed out Dannevirke will be back again next year.