Coach leaves proud of second-half comeback effort

Phil Young
Phil Young
What a game to go out on.

Veteran coach Phil Young reckons it is time someone else picked up the reins and he plans on having a break from coaching after more than 20 years in various roles.

Retirements do not always stick. But if it turns out Taieri's 38-31 defeat by University in the premier final at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday was his last game, then he leaves in style.

His side had been laid to waste in the opening half and was trailing 31-3 at the break.

But the man nicknamed "Yards" is not one to panic easily. He was calm and focused and delivered a simple message.

"It was just out of character, the way we played that first half," Young said.

"We hadn't played to our style or what we had trained all year. So we had to remind ourselves at halftime what was required.

"I'm very, very proud of the way we came back."

It was nearly one of the epic comebacks. Taieri's pack took over.

Captain Tom Hardy scored from a lineout drive, lock Don Lolo bagged two tries in a impressive second half, and replacement prop Aki Seiuli turned scrum parity into scrum dominance. He was instrumental in securing a penalty try from a 5m scrum with five minutes remaining.

That seven-pointer locked up the scores 31-31.

The fairytale eluded Taieri, though. University scored the winner under the posts with a minute remaining, to clinch a 38-31 win.

Hardy said the side was keen to finish strongly for its coach but also for itself.

"That second half was some of the best footy that I've ever been a part of, so I'm nothing but proud, really," Hardy said.

"I think for a lot of us it was our last game for the Eels, so we thought we may as well leave it all out there.

"I'm stoked for Yards and the other guys that have played their last game."

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