Rotoiti can proudly hang the Rotorua Banner in their clubrooms for the next year, after a comprehensive 44-10 win over Ngongotaha in the pre-season final.

As well as winning the banner, which Whakarewarewa have held for the past two years, the win ensured Rotoiti retained the Tai Mitchell Shield.

Ngongotaha, who have qualified to play in the Baywide Premier division this year, showed plenty of grunt, but were given a timely reminder of the pace the game is played at in the premier division.

Arapo Whata with the ball. Photo/Ben Fraser
Arapo Whata with the ball. Photo/Ben Fraser

As is to be expected during the pre-season, both sides struggled for continuity during the early stages, but Rotoiti opened the scoring after 10 minutes when they created an overlap for Kaipo Brown on the right-hand side.

Advertisement

The Rotoiti forward pack were as big and powerful as ever, producing massive hits and dominating the set piece throughout to lay the platform for another three tries and a 20-3 lead at halftime.

During the first 20 minutes of the second half, Ngongotaha started to find their feet and had some decent spells of possession. With 20 minutes left to play, Rotoiti lost a man to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and Ngongotaha went on the attack with renewed energy.

They made the most of the numerical advantage almost instantly when Leighton Simpkins put William Seywell through a gap to score. The try was converted and the deficit reduced to 20-10.

Rotoiti's Baden Wardlaw. Photo/Ben Fraser
Rotoiti's Baden Wardlaw. Photo/Ben Fraser

Unfortunately for Ngongotaha, that was where the comeback ended as Rotoiti turned the screws and showed why they were Baywide Premier finalists last season.

They scored another four tries, including a great team effort in which first five Whakataki Cunningham put up a midfield bomb and lock Baden Wardlaw leapt to claim it and produced a superb offload from the back of the hand to put Tamati Rhind over under the posts.

Ngongotaha coach Jodie Wharekura said the game showed his players the standard of rugby required to compete in the premier division.

"It was fast and I expected that Rotoiti would come out like that, they're a well structured and well coached side and they certainly showed us the level we need to be at. All credit to them, they have a great squad and Rotorua should be proud of that team.

"Our set piece is [the main work-on]. We were dominated at set piece, at scrum and lineout, and you can't set any sort of platform from there.

Advertisement
Ngongotaha's Scott Bogan. Photo/ Ben Fraser
Ngongotaha's Scott Bogan. Photo/ Ben Fraser

"I was proud of the boys and the way they stuck at it, we managed to get a try in the second half. They're all still nice and close and tight, that's a sign of a team that's going forward. They can't wait for next week," Wharekura said.

Rotoiti coach Richard Francis said dominance at the set piece set the platform.

"The tight five in the scrum in particular did the job, that goes a long way to winning.

"It was a great occasion too, playing at the stadium and playing Ngongotaha again. The crowd was awesome and the banner is there for a year now. It's all for the community, that's what the boys really play for, the passion and the community," Francis said.

Earlier in the day Waikite beat Kahukura 20-5 to claim the Paul Scott Trophy.