Karaka stormed to their first ever McNamara Cup title on Saturday as they overcame the wind and rain, a valiant Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors and the weight of history to earn a 33-19 win.
Playing into a gale in the first half, Karaka were able to keep pace with an Ardmore Marist side that topped the round robin.
Kerr did well to help his side exit their own half, when all teams on the day struggled to do that in such horrible conditions.
They turned within touch and quickly edged in front on the back of a pair of quick tries.
From there Ardmore Marist had no answer as Craig Hill’s side played the territory game well and used ferocious determination at the break down to force key turnovers.
After years of setbacks and coming up just short in finals, the Karaka club has their first title in their 86-year history and one of their favourite sons led them to the promised land.
“I suppose if you keep knocking on the door someone has got to let you in,” a jubilant Hill said after the game.
“How good were the boys today in these conditions? Not really conditions we like playing in and I can’t fault them really.
“It was pretty simple in that first half -we just had to hold possession and deny them possession because they can hurt you at times.
“To do that and then turn around the control from Baden and just taking opportunities – we have been guilty of not doing that all season – so magic stuff.”
While always confident, it was only right when the final whistle sounded that Hill finally knew he had climbed to the top of the mountain.
“It was 28-14 and Ardmore were attacking down at our line and if they had scored early in that raid there was still time for them to come back but our boys dug deep and kept them out,” he explained.
“It has been 86 years, my dad played for the club, my brother played for the club, I played for the club, my in-laws played for the club, we came from second division now to being at the top in 2021 – I can’t really describe it.
“There were some tough years trying to get out of the second division. After all those knock backs, I just feel on cloud nine.”
Something about finals football and Bombay Super Freight seem to go hand-in-hand as they rallied to beat 19-3 Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega in the Premiership Plate final at Colin Lawrie Fields.
Injuries certainly curtailed their charge in the round robin and Sam Aiono’s side had to come from well back in the Plate round to make the semi-finals, beat Waiuku in Waiuku and then knock over a Pukekohe side that had been playing in the Premier Cup.
Te Kauwhata Proclad overcame recent Sid Marshall Shield heartbreak to record a famous 18-5 title win in the Championship division against Drury at Drury.
After falling at the final hurdle against Maramarua two years ago and to Weymouth the season before, Te Kauwhata finally get to celebrate by raising the Cup.
They fell behind early against a Drury side that had been unbeaten throughout 2021 but rallied in wet conditions that they enjoy playing in to score three successive tries and take out the title.
Papakura Thirsty Liquor produced a stunning performance in the Massey Cup U21 decider to earn a 13-3 win over Manurewa Barfoot & Thompson at Navigation Homes Stadium.
They had to do it the hard way – losing comfortably to Patumahoe in the final round robin game to finish third. They had to go to Patumahoe in the semi-finals a week later but managed to reverse the result and earn their spot against neighbours Manurewa.
The top qualifiers struck early with the wind at their backs but Papakura, led by inside backs Harrison Clotworthy and Josiah Lander as well as aggressive lock Joe Muamua, played superbly in the first 40.
They turned with the wind at their backs and kept making Manurewa come from their own half. They forced key turnovers whenever Manurewa threatened and walked away with a deserving victory.
Patumahoe Pak N Save Pukekohe wore down Karaka in the first half of their U85 championship decider, scoring a crucial try on the stroke of halftime to take a 13-3 lead into the second half and go on to claim a 27-3 victory.
Playing into the wind in the second spell, Patumahoe handled conditions perfectly to run away with the match.
They did it after losing skipper Eamon Wallbutton to injury in the first half. Josh Snell and Broc Hooper were superb in the wet while the Patumahoe forwards were relentless to give coach Brad Healy yet another U85kg title.
Counties Power Club Finals Results 17 July 2021
McNamara Cup (Premiership): Champions Karaka
Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors 19-33 Karaka
Premiership Plate: Champions Bombay
Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega 13-19 Bombay
Sid Marshall Shield (Championship): Champions Te Kauwhata PROCLAD
Drury 5-18 Te Kauwhata PROCLAD
Massey Cup (Under 21): Champions Papakura Thirsty Liquor
Manurewa Barfoot & Thompson 3-13 Papakura Thirsty Liquor
Under 85kg: Champions Patumahoe
Patumahoe 27-3 Karaka
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