Innocent Tuimavave-Mau was the hat-trick hero as Hikurangi Stags defended their Whangarei and Districts Rugby League title with a resounding 32-14 grand final victory over Moerewa.
Tuimavave-Mau scored his first try after only two minutes as the Stags got an early roll on in the final at Toll Stadium that followed the pre-game plan.
"We wanted to get a good start and dominate them for the whole game and in the end that's pretty much what happened," player-coach Joe Rau said.
They led 16-4 at half-time and then withstood the inevitable second-half Tigers' comeback to ease away in the final quarter. Rau said the win capped off a good season but it was important that they finished strongly.
"We really wanted to win the final and felt that winning the minor premiership and playing well all season didn't mean much unless we won the silverware, so we'd have been gutted if we allowed them to get into the final and beat us," he said.
Rau said that defence had been the major difference between the two teams.
"We've done a lot of work on defence and we were aggressive defensively and although it cost us a few penalties we made a statement that we were up for it and in the end I think they [the Tigers] tired both mentally and physically and we were still going at the end of 80 minutes," he said.
Prop Steve Rau, Jarom Wihongi-Henare were outstanding with both Rau brothers scoring a try. Another was scored by Chiefy Yates, Jack Walker slotted three conversions.
For the Tigers, Anaru Thompson scored a double, Herewini McGregor scored another and Jayden Bently-Hape kicked a conversion.
Many of the players will now turn their attention to the Northern Swords national campaign. Joe Rau will coach the side in the campaign and wants to see improvement in their season.
"We're all up for another challenge and as long as we improve from where we were last year, I'll be happy," he said.
The Northland faithful will be hoping he has the same good fortune with the provincial team as he did with the Stags.
Article courtesy of Northern Advocate - Reporter: Peter Thorley