‘It’s a weird one’ as clubs share banner

What do we do now? Celebrate? Collapse in despair?

Harbour captain Charles Elton certainly was not sure.

He had just been part of thrilling final that ended with Harbour and University locked 30-30 after 100 minutes of rugby.

The Hawks had their chances to claim the win in front of a 3000-strong crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

They led 30-23 with a couple of minutes left during regulation time.

But the favourites worked their way up field and probed for a gap. Eventually, Harbour ran out of defenders and impressive lock Josh Hill ran through a big hole 5m out to score under the posts.

The conversion sent the game into extra time. Harbour had two opportunities to seal victory late in the second extra period.

Logan Allen had his first dropped goal attempt charged down and moments later sliced another attempt to the left.

Harbour replacement Melani Matavao has Giorgio Bower in support as he evades University defenders...
Harbour replacement Melani Matavao has Giorgio Bower in support as he evades University defenders Cory Smith (left) and Connor Mcleod during Saturday’s epic drawn premier club rugby final at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

He also hit the upright with two conversion attempts during regulation time.

It was not to be and Elton was not sure what to make of it initially.

"At the final whistle we all didn’t know what was going on. But it is a pretty good feeling winning the banner," he said.

"It’s a weird one, though. You never expect to draw a final but it has happened.

"We’ve played 100 minutes of footy and the boys gave it everything. I’m pretty proud of them.

"I guess we got the result we wanted in the end."

It is Harbour’s first title. The club was formed 26 years ago when Port Chalmers and Ravensbourne merged in 1992.

Both those clubs were more than 100 years old and never won the title.

University, in stark contrast, can celebrate its 50th premier banner.

It led 16-10 at halftime and had comprehensively outplayed Harbour. Fullback Taylor Haugh was a menace every time he got the ball in his hands.

The scrum was dominant. The lineout was solid and University was winning the physical battle up front.

The game seemed to be following the script perfectly.

But Hawks front rower Aidan Spence gave his side hope when he barrelled over from close range just before the break.

Replacement halfback Melani Matavao provided a spark early in the second spell when he darted up the left flank to set up a try for lock Alan Burling.

University replied with a try to hooker Ricky Jackson. But Allen drilled a penalty then made a nice break to set up a second try for Spence.

Harbour had all the momentum and turned down a handy penalty opportunity to kick for touch and set up a lineout drive.

University resisted but Allen eventually slipped through a gap to score.

His conversion hit the post. Had it gone over, University would have been trailing by nine points with about five minutes remaining.

The students rallied and a penalty helped them get into position to score the equaliser.

But neither side was able to break the deadlock during extra time. The players’ energy was fading as quickly as the light.

In the premier colts finals, University beat Kaikorai 21-19 in a tight encounter, while Dunedin upset West Taieri 20-17 in the premier 2 final.


Premier club final
The scores

University    30

Gavin Stark, Jack McHugh, Ricky Jackson, Josh Hill tries; Michael Williams 2 con, 2 pen

Harbour    30

Aidan Spence 2, Alan Burling, Logan Allen tries; Allen 2 con, 2 pen

Halftime: University 16-10.

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