Rotoiti have banished the demons of last year's Baywide Premier final with a dominant 33-3 win over Mount Maunganui.
The grand final rematch, at Emery Park yesterday, was scrappy at times, but once Rotoiti started holding onto the ball they showed what they can do with it.
Mount Maunganui were the first to get points on the board when they converted a penalty inside the opening 10 minutes. Unfortunately for them it would be the last time they bothered the scorers that afternoon.
The first 20 minutes of the game were far from fluent with both sides struggling to hold onto the ball. However, 25 minutes in, Rotoiti made the breakthrough.
They charged into the Mount Maunganui 22m on the back of strong runs from Baden Wardlaw and Abraham Tito but were held up over the line. From the resulting scrum they worked a beautifully executed set-piece which resulted in winger Pryor Collier diving in for a spectacular finish in the corner. Tumua Cunningham nailed the conversion from the sideline for a 7-3 lead.
Rotoiti were starting to dominate territory and possession and seconds before halftime they were in again. Mount Maunganui had the ball on their own try-line and were put under immense pressure by the Rotoiti defensive line. The ball went to ground and Rotoiti first five Whakataki Cunningham scooped it up to score.
Rotoiti led 14-3 at halftime.
Straight after the break Rotoiti forced another turnover inside the Mount Maunganui 22m. After several phases they shifted the ball right and winger Tumua Cunningham showed he is stronger than his small stature suggests to crash over in the corner and give his side a 19-3 lead.
Ten minutes into the half Rotoiti were awarded a penalty deep inside Mount Maunganui territory. They turned down a reasonably easy kick at goal and put the ball into touch instead. From the resulting lineout they set up a maul and drove over the try-line for No 8 Tito to score. Tumua Cunningham nailed another tough conversion to make it 26-3.
With 20 minutes left to play Collier had his second try of the match. Rotoiti were on the attack when fullback Te Hata Wilbore sliced through a gap in the middle of the field. He drew the last defender and laid on a perfect pass for Collier to race away and score. The try was converted for a 33-3 lead.
The pace of the game slowed in the final 15 minutes with the game effectively over, although Rotoiti had several chances to further extend the lead. It was quite the turnaround from the 41-8 loss in last year's final.
Rotoiti coach Willie Royal said, despite having already secured a spot in the top eight, it was important to build momentum going into the second phase of the competition.
"It was a good game. We went out with a few things in mind and we actually stuck to a bit of structure and game plan. We called a bit of honesty on some of the guys and look what happened.
"We came unstuck last week [in a loss to Te Puke], so we wanted to build some momentum and we didn't want to change too much.
"Our key word at the start of the match was 'honesty'. Everyone has to be honest to themselves, don't wait for anybody else. They did that," Royal said.
In other Premier matches, Whakarewarewa picked up a hard-fought 30-29 win over Tauranga Sports and Ngongotaha hammered Whakatane Marist 54-7.
Farmlands Co-operative Baywide club rugby results
Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier
Whakarewarewa 30 v Tauranga Sports 29
Greerton Marist 79 v Arataki 0
Rotoiti 33 v Mount Maunganui 3
Te Puna 35 v Rangataua 15
Te Puke Sports 76 v Paroa 14
Ngongotaha 54 v Whakatane Marist 7
Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier Development
Tauranga Sports 36 v Whakarewarewa 22
Greerton Marist 51 v Arataki 22
Mount Maunganui 18 v Rotoiti 12
Te Puna 56 v Rangataua 14
Te Puke Sports 34 v Paroa 5
Ngongotaha 55 v Whakatane Marist 0
Results supplied by Bay of Plenty Rugby Union