The RDO Shield was safe for another season as the Wanganui Toyota Development XV rebounded from their loss in their last pool game to hold off Wellington Maori Development 36-29 at the Levin Domain on Saturday.
As expected, Wanganui found the Maori side much stronger than the understrength team they had beaten 49-22 at City College on August 25.
They were leading 19-7 before Wellington came back at them and went try-for-try with the defending champions.
"Wellington had some great players in their team, they opened us up from everywhere," said coach Jerome McCrea.
However, unlike their previous round robin matches, this time Wanganui's defensive line didn't crack at the finale of the match.
"The last ten minutes we defended really well and they scored a real nice try that held it together," said McCrea.
"It was a typical final. It was close the whole way through.
"They all played well, really, it was hard to pick a standout.
"The backs again were solid."
Fullback Samu Kubunavanua scored a hat trick of tries, while Steelform Wanganui squad member Simon Dibben also crossed on the wing, both of them having plenty of experience in playing for silverware on Levin Domain.
Returning second-five Troy Brown scored a try and set up another, well backed up by midfield partner Josiah Bogileka.
First-five Nick Harding converted four of the tries and added a penalty.
But the backline can't thrive if the forwards haven't secured quality possession, and McCrea said the pack had a big game.
"It builds the platform."
As part of their motivation, the players followed the Barbarian FC tradition of wearing their club rugby socks to represent those closest to them in Wanganui rugby.
"They made the call on Thursday, it was a nice touch for them," said McCrea.
Remembering previous misadventures on the town with rugby trophies won by Wanganui teams, WRFU chief executive Bridget Belsham wisely made sure the Shield was taken back into safe keeping at the union offices before the celebrations ramped up too much that evening.
Since 2013, Wanganui has won the RDO Shield every season with the exception of 2016.