West Coast wins first national title
In a week where the government changed and the All Blacks achieved one of their most meritorious World Cup victories, West Coast also broke a glass ceiling by winning a national domestic rugby trophy.
After three previous defeats in the Lochore Cup final, West Coast blunted a fast-finishing Poverty Bay 23-20 at John Sturgeon Park in Greymouth.
West Coast scored all their points in the first half. Poverty Bay was overpowered at the ruck, conceding a multitude of penalties. West Coast pinged the corners expertly and built considerable pressure with their scrum. Poverty Bay rarely exited their 22, battling against driving rain and a violent wind.
Winger Logan Ross chipped over three penalties for West Coast before halfback Cleve Barrell darted over in the 29th minute following aggressive forward surges.
West Coast applied the exclamation mark on an imperious first half when they were rewarded a penalty try from a scrum. The entire pack was superb, but Tyler Kearns (loosehead), Troy Tauwhare (hooker), Tumama Tu’ulua (lock) and Steve Soper (openside) are especially worthy of acclaim.
The first 15 minutes of the second spell was muddled and scoreless. Poverty Bay eventually breathed new life into the contest when wing Te Peehi Fairlie ferreted clear openside after slick passing created vacant pasture.
Ironically a West Coast scrum would be the source of the visitors' second try. The ball squirted free from the swirling packs and Ra Broughton delivered a quick pass to an unmarked Hunter Mokomoko.
With ten minutes remaining Poverty Bay's second five Jacob Leaf trampled over the top of his opposite and stampeded into the clear to set up Mokomoko for his second.
Defying the conditions, Poverty Bay had West Coast scrambling with its audacious and expansive approach. Poverty Bay loose forwards Hayze Nepia and Stuart Leach were full of bustle, and when Leach scored with 90 seconds left, an improbable victory was a realistic prospect.
Poverty Bay gathered the restart and ripped the ball wide. A ferocious front-on tackle by West Coast second-five Shayne Anderson forced an error. Fittingly the West Coast scrum terminated time.
West Coast: 23 (Cleve Barrell try, Penalty try; Logan Ross 3 pen, con) Poverty Bay: 20 (Te Peehi Fairlie, Hunter Mokomoko 2, Stuart Leach tries) HT: 23-0