Blues lift Galbraith Shield for 2019

Invercargill Blues captain Michael Peterson lifts the Galbraith Shield after his side beat Star...
Invercargill Blues captain Michael Peterson lifts the Galbraith Shield after his side beat Star 16-9 in the final at Rugby Park on Saturday. PHOTO: JOHN LANGFORD
Invercargill Blues are the Southland club champions for 2019.

Blues beat Star 16-9 in the Galbraith Shield final at Rugby Park on Saturday.

Light rain arrived 30 minutes before kickoff, which made ball-handling difficult.

Blues first five-eighth Mitch Taylor kicked his first penalty goal after three minutes.

Star fullback Ben Pope missed from in front after 10 minutes, but soon after Star prop Chris Apoua barged over the tryline.

After referee Jayden Watson consulted one of his assistants, the try was disallowed, for a double movement.

Pope kicked a penalty goal for Star after 15 minutes. Following that, Blues turned down shots at goal at the other end, opting for lineouts.

Blues halfback Jay Renton and Taylor confidently steered their team around the park, but the greasy conditions and solid defence made building phases difficult.

Star hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate was sin-binned after 30 minutes for a late tackle.

Taylor and Pope both missed shots at goal, before Pope landed one to give his side a 6-3 lead at half time.

Star spent the first 10 minutes of the second half on attack, but failed to put meaningful phases together.

It lacked direction and the ball runners were left flat, isolated and regularly lost the ball in contact.

Star lost some firepower when Pleasants-Tate went off with a knee injury after 52 minutes.

A Taylor penalty goal locked the scores after 55 minutes.

Blues hooker Jacob Payne was sin-binned for a spear tackle in the 60th minute, and Star went back up 9-6.

Powerful Blues centre Kelepi Holi broke the line in the 67th minute, and four phases later he barged over for the game's first - and only - try.

Taylor's conversion had the Blues up 13-9.

During the final 10 minutes, Blues' big ball-runners Holi and No8 Bill Fukofuka started to make inroads through the tired Star defence.

Taylor kicked his third penalty goal after 74 minutes.

The Blues halves were assured in this final, while the Star backline lacked direction.

Blues left wing Kalani Elder and fullback Brad Kooman were elusive with ball in hand.

Star prop Chris Apoua made good metres with the ball and defended hard.

Star co-coach Chris McIlwrick said his team did do some good things, but not collectively like the week before against Marist.

"Maybe we should have adjusted our game plan with the weather, but Blues defended very well and deserved the win.''

Midlands is the inaugural Ack Soper Shield holder after beating Wyndham 20-18 in the second-tier premier final in front of a huge crowd at Wyndham on Saturday.

Midlands coach Dayna Cunningham was a proud man after the match.

"It was one hell of a game, I'm really proud of our guys. We knew to win in Wyndham our guys would have to dig deep like they've never had to before.

"The last five minutes of the game was huge. Wyndham scored but the conversion to level the scores and force extra time hit the posts and missed. Wyndham attacked hard but our guys defended until they were out on their feet.''

Midlands dominated the set-piece for most of the game, but Wyndham was stronger at the breakdown and earned a number of turnovers in that area.

 - JOHN LANGFORD

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