After 16 years of trying, Wellington have at long last come out on top in a final, in stunning circumstances.

After 100 minutes of rugby, Wellington finally overcame Bay of Plenty in an extra-time barnburner; victorious 59-45 in a game which had it all.

It was sweet relief for Wellington. Previously, eight times they had marched into a final with hopes of ending the night raising a trophy aloft. Eight times they were left watching on as their opponents basked in the glory.

Tonight, that streak finally ended, and with it came promotion to the Premiership.


Since claiming the NPC Premiership in 2000, Wellington had consistently fallen short in the big games. From 2006-2009, they lost four straight finales, so you could understand any skepticism as to whether they could break that duck tonight.

That skepticism was turned into a more pressing concern after a massive performance by Bay of Plenty. Up 28-14, Wellington looked comfortable, but the men from the Bay kept coming, scoring some fantastic tries, and pushing the hosts the whole way.

The final game had parallels to Wellington's season as a whole, with their high-paced style creating an avalanche of attack, from both sides.

Wellington had several tries set up after blistering counter-attacks, while Bay winger Joe Webber scored two stunning long-range individual efforts.

While they were the highlights, it was simply a contest which had everything. Wellington scored three tries through their props, and had a try within 14 seconds of the second half re-starting after a remarkable Brad Shields chargedown.

At that point, it looked like Wellington would storm to victory, but Bay of Plenty also had tricks up their sleeve. Twice they leveled the scores, and had to sweat out a missed last-gasp penalty from Jackson Garden-Bachop to take the game to extra time.

It was there where their exhaustive effort finally tolled. Wellington's array of attacking options kept coming, with three superbly executed tries eventually burying Bay of Plenty's chances, and clinching their long-awaited title.

Granted, this title is far less meaningful than the finals they used to contend for. Practically a trophy for finishing in eighth, Wellington would preferably not be playing in this final, after being relegated to the Championship in 2014.


Such is the strange NPC system, where teams have a chance to win a trophy due to previous poor performance, but for Wellington their victory has a larger significance, with the province returning to battling the big guns for the Premiership.

For Bay of Plenty, their immense efforts end with no tangible rewards. While safe in the knowledge that they had an excellent season, they remain without a title since 2000.

Their drought continues, while Wellington will drink to their own success.

Wellington 59 (Tolu Fahamokioa 2, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Sam Lousi, Alex Fidow, Brad Shields, Wes Goosen, Sitiveni Paongo, Julian Savea tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 cons, 2 pens)
Bay of Plenty 45 (Joe Webber 2, Luke Campbell, Tyler Ardron, Jesse Parete, Terrence Hepetema, Mitch Karpik tries; Mike Delany 5 cons)
HT: 20-14