Tikipunga's division one men's football team are back-to-back Stafford Choat Cup champions after a stunning goal from Tikipunga's Tyran Kitchen with four minutes to go secured the 1-nil win.
Tikipunga, who were playing Onerahi's premier team in a repeat of last year's final which Tikipunga also won, were under immense pressure for much of the game on Saturday at Semenoff Stadium.
Onerahi came out early and dominated possession and territory. While the premier team had more attacking opportunities, Tikipunga stayed resolute in defence and had a few prime chances of their own, but neither team could apply the finishing touch.
As the full time whistle drew closer and the teams were showing signs of nerves ahead of a possible extra-time period, Tikipunga's Tyran Kitchen was waiting on the edge of the 18-yard box when the ball floated in from the right-hand side.
Standing just to the left of the goal, Kitchen jumped, angling his body to strike the ball in midair and connected well enough that the ball looped over the Onerahi goalkeeper's outstretched arm and into the net.
Jubilation erupted from the strong contingent of Tikipunga supporters in an over 300-person crowd. Tikipunga managed to hold on for the last few minutes of the game before the referee blew his whistle and the men in orange and blue knew they had defended their title.
"I'm pretty chuffed," Tikipunga captain Gary Langley said.
"Everything just worked, everyone helped each other out and backed each other."
Langley, who played a pivotal role in defence, said he could feel the nerves early in the game while they resisted a barrage of attack from Onerahi. However, Langley credited his team's experience and maturity in managing the situation.
"We'd been there and done that before so we just had to wait it out, you can't just bomb it forward you've got to soak it up and find your rhythm, if you try and hit back, you're just going to get undone."
Melville United flying Chatham Cup flag for Waikato
Kitchen, who was almost walking around in a daze after the final whistle, said when he saw the ball coming in his direction, his only instinct was make some kind of contact.
"To be completely honest, I don't even remember kicking it or hitting the ground," he said.
"I just remember the boys running around and then I asked one of the boys, 'oh, did that go in?'."
Tikipunga coach George Izatt was ecstatic after the game and said the bragging rights were definitely in their hands.
"We were going to try and keep our composure, keep our head and have the right attitude in the game and it paid off, which is just brilliant," he said.
Burgess brothers Scott and Jamie, who played in the midfield for Tikipunga, had huge work rates on Saturday and did well to keep their side's attacks coming. Izatt commended the pairing on their performances.
"That's the key with any football game, your midfield is the core and if they don't work, your team doesn't work."
Izatt credited Onerahi on an excellent effort and hoped their experience in the last three finals would allow them to come back stronger next year.
Onerahi coach Grant Short had few words to describe the game directly after the final whistle, and was still gutted the morning after when he described how he felt his team dominated throughout the game.
"It felt like we were in control for most of game and it felt like a matter of if and not when we were going to score but I don't know, it took a pretty special goal to break us," he admitted.
Short said the group, which had played in the last three cup finals and lost all three, started with real intent but simply couldn't break down the Tikipunga defence.
"Everyone was up for the game and the way we started, we were composed and threatening but you can only bang your head against a brick wall for so long."
Those who turned up to the stadium earlier on Saturday were treated to two entertaining men's finals which saw a total of 12 goals scored between them.
Playing for the Stafford Choat Plate, Kerikeri's division two team toppled Central Brown's division three team, 5-nil, in a dominant performance.
Central Brown as a club still had something to play for as their division two team took on Ngunguru's division three team in the Stafford Choat Bowl Final. After an early period of good contesting from both sides, Central Brown pulled away to win, 6-1.
In the Northland women's premier cup and plate finals on Sunday at Semenoff Stadium, Kerikeri's premier women's team claimed a dominant 5-nil win over Madhatters in the cup final.
The first half was a very tight contest between two talented sides and although Kerikeri took the lead after seven minutes through striker Kelli Skipage, Madhatters stayed in the hunt right through the first half.
Kerikeri's line-up featured a number of classy players who exhibited a great showing of accurate passing and physical dominance, as they bossed possession and territory for much of the game in front of a crowd of over 100 people.
That dominance would pay off in the second half as Kerikeri scored four more goals through Holly Inwood (2), Samantha Knight and an own goal by Madhatters.
Kerikeri captain Chelsey Alexander said the cup win was a really satisfying way to end the season.
"I'm ecstatic, after a long season I think it's what we probably deserve and I'm very proud of the girls," she said
"I think we managed the field well, it was very big and very soggy but we scored some good goals and kept a clean sheet which I love."
Kerikeri coach Russell McCabe echoed his captain's enthusiasm after the win and said Skipage's goal in the first half was key.
"We thought the first half was going to be critical and if we didn't score in the first half, it was going to be a long game."
Kerikeri were in their second year back in the premier competition after a couple of years absent, which made yesterday's win more satisfying for McCabe after a top-two finish in the league this year.
"We wanted to be right up in the top three of the league and we wanted to win something, so we finished second in the league and we've won the cup so we've achieved what we set out to do," he said.
Madhatters coach Brendon Gray said Kerikeri's win was well-deserved and commended the quality of their play over the 90 minutes.
"At halftime, we were pretty happy with 1-nil and I thought if we could sneak [a goal] in, we could get a bit of momentum, but unfortunately it just wasn't to be," he said.
With three players in his squad new to football this year, Gray said the experience of a cup final and finishing in the top four in the league would be valuable for his team.
"It's really great for the future, we've got a good core now and looking forward to next season."
In the women's plate final played earlier on Sunday at the stadium, Bream Bay toppled Central Brown in an entertaining encounter. Despite some impressive saves by the Central Brown goalkeeper, Bream Bay's strike force was too good as they secured the win with their second goal with five minutes left on the clock.