There were jubilant scenes at Levin Domain at the weekend as Foxton won their first Horowhenua-Kapiti senior rugby championship since 1988 when they beat a gallant Waikanae 31-25.
Foxton almost managed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory in a climatic and thrilling match played in front of a large crowd, with a busload of supporters from Foxton following their team bus to the ground.
It was hard to imagine a more dominant start to a game of rugby. After leading 24-0 midway through the first half, it was just a question of how much Foxton were going to win by.
Waikanae initially had no answer to Foxton's physicality and willingness to move the ball. It was a sublime passage of play with a forward pack dominating and a silky backline showing skill and express pace.
It was free-flowing rugby that made a lie of the puggy conditions. It looked as though Foxton might to break all records and knock up a cricket score. Many at the ground started talking about who could remember the biggest winning margin in a final.
It was Foxton who scored first when fullback Arana Murphy slotted a penalty. When first five-eighth Te Ao Marama Hemi scored a converted try, with another one soon after to halfback Kane Tamao, the floodgates had opened at 17-0.
When centres Toroa Rapana intercepted near halfway and scored unopposed under the posts, the game looked gone at 24-0. Waikanae looked outclassed and out on their feet.
Then came the momentum shift. The heavy underfoot conditions proved to be a leveller and, ruck by ruck, Waikanae's forward park started to gain parity, which allowed their backline some front-foot ball and that they, too, could cut capers.
Waikanae capitalised on Foxton being a man down when Tamao was sin-binned shortly before halftime, with tries to centre Bongchong Khanchalaleun and winger Kaden Van Gaalen.
Incredibly, they went into the break 24-12 after mostly living on scraps.
Waikanae then came out and dominated the second half and were rewarded with a try to winger Jamie Hinds wide out.
When evergreen Waikanae front row forward Keith Milligan - who spent a good deal of the match on the wing - flopped over with time ticking, it put his side in front.
Waikanae looked to have pulled off a remarkable comeback when leading 25-24 late in the came, but cue a piece of individual brilliance from Foxton first five-eight Te Ao Marama Hemi.
The classy first five-eighth broke through tackles before showing blistering pace to outrun the cover defence and score in the corner, much to the jubilation of his teammates and supporters.
Murphy certainly had his kicking boots on, and as both teams scored four tries apiece, it could be said his contribution was a telling one, with four conversions and a penalty.
Foxton coach Waynne Napier said he knew when Waikanae scored two tries just before halftime to keep in touch at 24-12 that they were in for a fight. But he had belief in his players.
"All season we've finished strongly and won a lot of games in the final 10 minutes," he said.
"The support was incredible and once the game was over and you saw the emotion you realised what it meant. We had not won since 1988 and there were plenty of supporters and former players that have waited a long time for this.
There were some fine performances from both teams in the forwards, with Foxton locks Tuitona Katoa and Richard Deadman imposing figures on the field, while Waikanae's loose forwards Antony Fox and Aaron Lahmert toiled hard.
While Foxton's opening stanza got them off to a great start, ultimately it was their stoic defence late in the game that won the match as a desprate Waikanae put them under immense pressure.
Ramsbottom Cup Premier Competition – Finals
At Levin Domain: Foxton: 31(T. Rapana, C. Hemi 2, K. Tamou tries; A. Murphy 4 con, 1 pen) v Waikanae 25 (K. Milligan, J. Hinds, K. Van Gaalen, B. Khanchaleun Tries; E. Reti 1 con, 1 pen)