True the individual brilliance is there, but most importantly the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield rugby team is a supportive unit who play as one.
The Russell Hewitt-Billy Te Hiko-coached side completed their season with a 41-14 win against the Hawke's Bay Barbarians at Park Island on Friday. The Barbarians team was selected from primary school students who could not make the Ross Shield tournament weight of 56kgs as well as players from the tournament who didn't make the Hawke's Bay team.
This victory, which gave the team the Errol Hantz Challenge Trophy, followed a 62-7 win against the Southern North Island Primary Schools team in Dannevirke the previous weekend in the battle for the Michael Taaffe Challenge Trophy. Hantz and Taaffe are both Hawke's Bay Ross Shield life members and are affectionately known as the two "godfathers" of Ross Shield rugby.
Friday's match was played in ideal conditions and the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team took an early 5-0 lead courtesy of a try to loosie Xavier Dunn. The Glen Varcoe-Mark Solomon-coached Hawke's Bay Barbarians led 7-5 after a converted try with 15 minutes of the first half remaining to centre Taufaeteau Kaufononga. Fullback Cohen Batterham slotted the conversion.
Within two minutes of the re-start the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team regained the lead through a try to winger Te Aotaki Edmonds which followed a superb run from midfielder Kyan Lowe. The Barbarians replied with a try to winger Calvin O'Rourke after a scorching run down the touchline.
Batterham added the conversion and the Barbarians led 14-10. From the kick off the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team flung the ball out wide to Edmonds who broke through three tackles to score and his team led 15-14 at halftime.
The Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team took control in the second half after almost conceding a spectacular intercept try which was stopped by a sensational tackle from fullback Josh Augustine. When Edmonds completed his hat-trick and first five-eighth Monte Timu added the conversion the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team led 22-14.
From the kick off Timu made a 30-metre burst to set up a ruck. Quick hands saw Tyler Vette score and a James Harper conversion meant the lead extended to 29-14. Winger Daniel Aitken was next to score and with Harper's conversion the lead was stretched to 34-14.
During the final minutes loosie Salvidor Karangaroa-Mackenzie scored for the winners and Timu added the conversion. Their team finished the season with 103 points from two games and just 21 conceded.
Expect to hear plenty about the likes of Timu, Edmonds, Lowe and their teammates in future. The Ross Shield nursery continues to produce big time.