Good-natured ribbing as victory remembered

The champion Kaikorai team from 1997 got together for a 25-year reunion at the clubrooms at...
The champion Kaikorai team from 1997 got together for a 25-year reunion at the clubrooms at Bishopscourt at the weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Some mistakes never get forgotten.

The champion Kaikorai team from 1997 got together for its 25th reunion at the clubrooms at Bishopscourt last weekend, and there were a couple of hot topics.

The try that was not came up, of course, and the fumble that cost another got its share of the limelight.

It mattered not a jot in the end, though.

On a cold, wet day at Carisbrook quarter of a century ago, Kaikorai edged a star-studded Southern side 12-7 in the Dunedin club final to claim the banner for the first time since 1921.

Southern had three All Blacks in the line-up — Kupu Vanisi, Isitolo Maka and Stu Forster — but Kaikorai was a pretty handy side as well.

Brendan Laney kicked four penalties that day and went on to play for Scotland, Byron Kelleher made his All Black debut two years later and played more than 50 games for his country, and Kelvin Middleton had a good Super Rugby and provincial career.

The side was captained by Andy Hunter and included Samoan international Mike Mika. Tony Gilbert was coach and Steve Martin was his assistant.

Nuggets head coach Brent Matehaere also played in the team and recalls the final as being a dire struggle.

Kaikorai spent long periods pinned deep in its half. It got a couple of breakouts but blew both of them.

Jack Tuaupiki busted through then lost the ball forward when Kaikorai had the overlap. He coped plenty of flak about that at the reunion.

And winger Jason Sinclair-Newman, who is in the UK and missed the gathering, scored the try that wasn’t.

"He dove over a phantom line to score a try. They had left the old markings on the ground and he dived over the wrong line thinking he had scored but he was five metres short," Matehaere said.

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