Passion, commitment, pride and desire.

Saturday's Premier 1 match-up between Whakarewarewa and Rotoiti at Puarenga Park had everything you would expect from a local derby and in the end it was the hosts Whakarewarewa who came out 23-19 victors.

The win gave them four valuable competition points in their hunt for a top four spot, but also saw them lift the Tai Mitchell Shield, which Rotoiti have had a firm grasp on for the past year.

It was a physical encounter from the outset and it was Whakarewarewa who took an early 3-0 lead, awarded a penalty right in front of the posts and opting to go for goal.


Rotoiti were without their captain Baden Wardlaw and several outside backs, but showed their depth in the forwards as they dominated the next 20 minutes.

Whakarewarewa were camped on their own try line as Rotoiti launched attack after attack.

Whenever Whakarewarewa did force an error Rotoiti were able to monster them in the scrum and win the ball back.

Abraham Tito went closest to scoring, off the back of a scrum, as he rumbled towards the line and reached out to place the ball, but was ruled to have knocked on.

The Whakarewarewa defence was spirited and after 20 minutes they were finally able to turn the ball over and clear.

After absorbing the pressure, they extended their lead through line breaking specialist Matt Garland, who showed pure strength and speed to charge through to score.

Shortly afterwards Whakarewarewa kicked another penalty and led 13-7 at halftime.

Whakarewarewa started the second half strongly.


They marched into the Rotoiti 22m and shifted the ball left where they had the numbers.

Hooker Jesse Mason-Grant summed up the situation perfectly to race through a gap and score. The try was converted and Whakarewarewa were threatening to run away with it, up 20-7. They added another penalty to lead 23-7 with 25 minutes left to play.

Whakarewarewa players celebrate an important win. Photo / Ben Fraser
Whakarewarewa players celebrate an important win. Photo / Ben Fraser

However, as expected, Rotoiti were not giving up the Tai Mitchell Shield without a fight.

Knowing where their strengths were they kept the ball in the hands of their forwards who threw everything at the Whakarewarewa try line.

After being held up several times, they finally made the break through as Raniera Whakataka crashed over to score. With 15 minutes left to play Whakarewarewa led 23-12.

Rotoiti were able to work their way up field and once again put the defensive line under immense pressure.


After Whakarewarewa gave away four consecutive penalties Mason-Grant was shown a yellow card and they were forced to defend with 14 men.

The effort from both sides was admirable, but in the end the pressure was too much for Whakarewarewa as a penalty try was awarded and their lead was cut to 23-19.

They were able to hold on for the final five minutes, however, sparking jubilant celebrations from an enthusiastic home crowd.

Whakarewarewa coach Boxer Smith said it was a "satisfying" win.

"We've been after the Tai Mitchell for a while and it's good to have a bit of silverware in the cabinet. In saying that, Rotoiti really put everything on the line. They had inexperienced backs, but their forwards are second to none in the competition. They scrummed well and put us under pressure at the lineout.

Rotoiti second five Tristan Collier makes a run against Whakarewarewa. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotoiti second five Tristan Collier makes a run against Whakarewarewa. Photo / Ben Fraser

"Our boys did well, we were able to attack and score a few tries. It was a little bit disheartening in the second half there, to let them back in the game, but that's the momentum of impact players coming off the bench for Rotoiti," Smith said.


Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Club Rugby results
Premier 1
Te Puna 65 Greerton Marist 19, Tauranga Sports 39 Mount Maunganui Sports 7, Te Puke Sports 29 Rangataua 12, Whakarewarewa 23 Rotoiti 19.

Premier 1 Development
Te Puna 48 Greerton Marist 8, Tauranga Sports 34 Mount Maunganui Sports 34, Te Puke Sports 41 Rangataua 0, Whakarewarewa 26 Rotoiti 31.

Premier 2
Opotiki 30 Rangiuru 20, Marist St Michael's 25 Arataki 17, Te Teko 40 Whakatane Marist 10, Ngongotaha 31 Waikite 15.

Premier 2 Development
Opotiki 13 Rangiuru 26, Marist St Michael's 36 Arataki 10, Te Teko 65 Whakatane Marist 0, Ngongotaha 41 Waikite 5.

Division One
Judea 52 Poroporo 22, Papamoa 25 Paroa 22, Murupara 50 Waimana 0, Ruatoki 54 Kahukura 8.

Division Two
Edgecumbe 17 Eastern Pirates 16, Katikati 41 Eastern Districts 14, Reporoa 50 Matata 0.