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The South Pacific Raiders held on to beat the East Coast Eagles in a thrilling Otago final at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
The Eagles scored six tries to the Raiders' five but could not add any extras with the boot.
After a physical start that included the loss of Raiders winger Edward Perkins to a leg injury, the Raiders caught the Eagles off guard and Perkins' replacement, Jordan Ruatoe, scored from a nice cut out pass.
Just three minutes later, hooker Isaac Misky stepped his way through the line and gave Ben McKerchar a chance to offload to Adam Tapsell, and the Raiders had a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles began to turn things around and their defence strengthened, largely due to hooker Sam Johnston, who made countless tackles.
Kail Spooner broke through four tackles to score the Eagles' opening try, but Misky hit back for the Raiders, pushing his way through three defenders on the way to the tryline.
However, the Eagles had the best of the period before halftime.
George Fisi ran the ball from dummy half and dotted down in the right hand corner, and winger Jackson Harliwich scored on the left. With neither converted, the Raiders held a 16-12 lead at halftime.
Hyrum Martin, who returned to the field in the second half after receiving treatment for an injury, stabbed a grubber kick through for Harliwich to score his second try and level the scores.
Dave Lipanovic and Misky scored tries for the Raiders in quick succession, but the Eagles returned the favour through Terrence Reid, who scored from a good run down the left sideline to get his side within six points with five minutes to play.
The Raiders' lead was whittled to two points when Tama Apineru again showed his brilliance on his way to scoring the Eagles' sixth try, right on fulltime.
Sam Johnston did his best to send the game to extra time from the sideline but his attempted goal fell just short.
It was a fine effort from the Eagles but an impressive Raiders side got to celebrate with the trophy.
By Ricki Allan.
Isaac Misky 2, Jordan Ruatoe, Adam Tapsell, Dave Lipanovic tries; Ben McKerchar 3 goals
Jackson Harliwich 2, Kail Spooner, George Fisi, Terrence Reid, Tama Apineru tries
Halftime: Raiders 16-12.