Tigers roar to southern title

Cowboys player Josh Reedy is tackled by Kia Toa Tigers player Joely Penese at the club final at...
Cowboys player Josh Reedy is tackled by Kia Toa Tigers player Joely Penese at the club final at the Oval on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Kia Toa Tigers got up 24-18 over the Invercargill Cowboys in a tight arm wrestle for the 2019 southern club title at the Oval on Saturday.

The Tigers started strongly and had all the momentum in the first 20 minutes.

They scored two well-executed tries and looked to dominate like they have done all season.

But the Cowboys dug deep off the back of some strong carries from Billy Cooper and hooker Daniel Low saw his chance and crossed the white line.

The Cowboys kept pushing the Tigers to bring the game back with halftime not far away.

The Cowboys did not give up and a much needed try before halftime had the Tigers worried and only two points ahead at the break.

It was a hard-fought second half and the Cowboys felt the intensity of finals football as they were left with just one reserve after injuries to key players Daniel Low, Tuki Hiko and Josh Reedy.

The injuries had a big impact on the match but the Cowboys were resilient and did not give up. Both teams had their opportunities and it was back and forth in the third quarter.

The Cowboys got over through Brett Alcock but the Tigers hit back twice, being ahead 22-14 with 20 minutes to go.

The Cowboys battled on with staunch defence and some strong carries from Junior Toparea kept them motivated and in the game.

The Cowboys were clinical on attack but the Tigers' defence proved tough to crack.

Dylan Lovett led a late charge for the Cowboys but the Tigers held on.

A penalty 20m out from the goal line and right in front of the posts resulted in the Tigers opting to kick for goal. Tayla Hazlett was successful with less than five minutes to go.

The 10-point lead had Kia Toa with one hand on the trophy but the game was not over. A try right on fulltime to Napo Vula was a good effort and a consolation for the Cowboys, as the Kia Toa Tigers began to celebrate their 2019 title.

 - Liam O'Brien

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