The Rotorua Aces showed wairua and determination to claim the Riverside Cup at the weekend.
The final, against Te Awamutu, was all level at 1-all after the first half but a strong bench saw them finish strong and claim an 8-3 win.
Aces coach Jamie Carroll said his side showed great character to fight the momentum and get the win.
"It was a really tight first half and the momentum was probably with them. We relaxed a little bit more in the second half and we have a really strong bench which was probably the deciding factor - we don't lose anything when we bring our bench players on.
"We play the game at a pretty high tempo. We carry 21 players and select 18 on match day which has contributed as well. We have a really strong culture now at training because everyone wants to fight for those spots.
"In the past it hasn't really been that way but we've kind of built it into something people want to be a part of which is really promising. We're a really tight knit group, the whole 21, and that came to the fore when the chips were down a bit and we started talking about getting our wairua back."
He said the side faced plenty of adversity throughout the season which only added to the pride they felt in what they had achieved.
In a season all ready disrupted by Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown, the Aces who finished on top of the table had to play their playoff games in opposition territory as the Rotorua turf was unavailable.
"We had to go about things the hard way, travelling away for our home semi and then again for the final. But it added to the story really because we had to things we wouldn't have done otherwise. Looking back, the boys will never forget it, it's all part of the legend of this year.
"The core of this group has been together four years and we've been building up our young guys who are really competitive now. We also had the inclusion of Leo Mitai-Wells, a former Black Stick, and he brought a lot of belief.
"It's definitely our mindset now that we want to continue what we've started and remain competitive next year."
Te Teko have fallen at the final hurdle in the Eastern bay of Plenty Division 1 final.
Having cruised to the top of the table with seven wins from seven and a points differential of +200, they took on second placed Ōpōtiki in the final on Saturday.
The match was a thriller, coming down to the wire, and it was Ōpōtiki who held on for a 13-12 win.
It was a case of redemption for Ōpōtiki, their one loss of the season being when they went down 17-34 to Te Teko in July.
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Men's Riverside Cup Final
Rotorua Aces 8-3 Te Awamutu (Goal scorers: Tim Greenwood 2, Daniel Ford 2, Leo Mitai-Wells, Te Huatahi Rangitauira, Owen Mitai-Wells, Te Hiraka Chase).
Central Bay of Plenty
Kahukura 22-37 Marist St Michael's
Ngongotahā 7-52 Whakarewarewa
Waikite v Rotoiti - No result available
Whakarewarewa 38-0 Eastern Pirates
Ngongotahā 13-10 Marist St Michael's
Eastern Bay of Plenty
Division 1 Final:
Ōpōtiki 13-12 Te Teko
Western Bay of Plenty
Greerton Marist 18-14 Tauranga Sports
Eastern Districts 48-0 Te Puna
Pāpāmoa 27-29 Katikati
(Bay of Plenty teams only)
Whakatāne Town 9-0 Melville
Ōtūmoetai 0-2 Tauranga City
Tilemax Pāpāmoa 3-1 Waiariki
Tauranga City Relics 4-0 Kawerau
Whakatāne Town 0- 8 Katikati
Waiariki Bay 3-2 Pāpāmoa
Waiariki 5-0 Pāpāmoa DouBros
Pāpāmoa Old Boys 1-1 Tauranga City
Plains Rangers 1-4 Taupō Lakers
Women's Bay 1:
Blue Rovers Vintage 3-0 Ōtūmoetai
Te Puke 5-1 Tauranga City
Kawerau Sports 4-1 Waiariki