Tough Mid Northern defence persevered in a low-scoring classic with the side again winning the title of Southern Districts Premier Reserve Rugby champions.
The Hukerenui club outpointed the defending champions Western Sharks 9-6 in a tight, old fashioned encounter in the rain at Toll Stadium on Saturday.
Mid Northern captain David Twaddle was happy to capture some silverware for the club after the club's senior team was unexpectedly tipped out of their semifinal a week earlier.
"It was a classic final really with two fairly even teams. Whoever made the least amount of mistakes was going to win it," he said.
Twaddle said there were a lot of nerves on display during the match. "It was hard out there for both teams because conditions weren't ideal but we couldn't always blame that for our mistakes."
Mid Northern might have won by more but their discipline let them down.
"Our discipline could've been a lot better today, but we seem to hold it together as a team and get the job done, so I'm amazingly proud of the boys but you can't take anything away from the Sharks either, they've played good footy all season and were always going to push us," he said.
The Sharks never gave up in their search for a rare back-to-back title. They broke down the right flank with just seconds remaining but fullback Brent Morgan made a covering tackle to shut down an almost certain try and save the day.
"My heart was in my mouth when Morgie made that tackle, he's been awesome on defence for us all season and I guess defence wins finals," Twaddle said. "That's the sort of ticker that I expected of the boys and they delivered on the day."
Mid Northern won the minor premiership as well but were wary of the Sharks, who were the only team to beat them all season.
Shark's skipper Richard Anderson congratulated Mid Northern for their win and told his own team to hold their heads up high.
"We've had an awesome season and we've got a lot of young boys coming through so we'll be back next year better than ever," he said.
Article courtesy of Northern Advocate - Reporter: Peter Thorley