There must be something in the water in Te Puke.

Their Years 7 and 8 rugby team has won the Tai Mitchell rugby tournament for the second year running and they did it in dominant fashion, beating Tauranga West 41-14 in the final at Rotorua Boys' High School on Sunday.

Going into a tournament as defending champions makes you a target, opposition teams often find another gear against you, but nobody came close to Te Puke during the 77th edition of the tournament.

They opened the tournament with a 102-0 win over Rotorua Gold on Thursday.
On day two they beat Rangitaiki 95-0 and Rotorua Maroon 91-5, and on Sunday they cemented their spot in the final with a 71-7 win over Whakatane.

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They finished the tournament, including the final, with an impressive points differential of +376.

Tauranga West were also impressive throughout pool play. They beat Galatea 58-0 on day one, Rotorua Gold 45-0 and Rangitaiki 71-24 on day two, and Tauranga East 22-7 on day three to book a place in the final.

However, it was one way traffic in the final between the same two sides that played off for the trophy in 2017.

Te Puke's forwards were relentless in their efforts to steal the ball at the breakdown, setting the platform for their well structured backline which comprised a host of electric players who seemed able to break tackles at will.

Te Puke's Rico Kelly makes a break against Tauranga West in the Tai Mitchell rugby final. Photo/Ben Fraser
Te Puke's Rico Kelly makes a break against Tauranga West in the Tai Mitchell rugby final. Photo/Ben Fraser

Tauranga West had most of the ball in the early stages, but struggled to get out of their own end.

Once Te Puke got their hands on the ball they showed what they can do, running in five tries to lead 31-0 at halftime.

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Wyndham Patuawa was the standout for Te Puke and was duly named player of the tournament after the final. With speed and power to burn, plus a fend most grown men would be proud of, Wyndham terrorised the Tauranga West defence.

He was also the Te Puke goal kicker, nailing three out of five kicks in the first half.

Tauranga West started to find their feet in the second half and much of the game was played out in the middle third of the field as the teams battled for superiority.

Te Puke were still able to turn the ball over frequently and Wyndham added to tries to extend the lead to 41-0, but the Tauranga West defence was much improved.

The biggest cheer from the crowd came in the final five minutes.

Despite knowing the comeback was out of reach, Tauranga West threw everything at the Te Puke defence, desperate to at least get points on the board.

They finally broke through when Jacob Grant crashed over from close range and backed that up with a try to William McGregor to make the scoreline a much more respectable 41-14.

Te Puke player Kerry O'Reilly in action against Tauranga West in the Tai Mitchell rugby final at Rotorua Boys' High School on Sunday. Photo/Ben Fraser
Te Puke player Kerry O'Reilly in action against Tauranga West in the Tai Mitchell rugby final at Rotorua Boys' High School on Sunday. Photo/Ben Fraser

Te Puke coach Phil O'Reilly described the final as "a good ding dong".

"It was a good challenge. You can win all the rugby you want before the final, but it has to be pulled together and the guys had to believe in themselves.

"We had a vision and it wasn't just about the win, it was about creating a good culture, creating good experiences and creating good memories," O'Reilly said.

He said the players should be proud of what they had achieved.

"It was fantastic to get the win, even to get to the final in rugby is hard, to get there and win is the next step."

2018 Tai Mitchell Tournament - Final Results Day Four
Tai Mitchell Final
Te Puke 41 Tauranga West 14.

3rd and 4th Playoff
Tauranga East 7 Whakatane 5.

5th and 6th Playoff
Tauranga North 27 Rangitaiki 22.

7th and 8th Playoff
Rotorua Maroon 31 Opotiki 26.

9th and 10th Playoff
Rotorua Gold 17 Galatea 17.