Wellington’s Te Upoko O Te Ika have successfully defended the Hikaia Amohia Trophy beating Whanganui 36-22 in the Men’s A Division final of the Central North Island Maori tournament in Masterton this afternoon.
Te Upoko O Te Ika surged to a 36-5 lead shortly after halftime, punishing an inaccurate Whanganui.
Tawera Rameka-Styles opened the scoring for Te Upoko O Te Ika when fullback Andrew Ellis retrieved a shallow clearance and put his centre in the clear.
Whanganui responded strongly when fullback Cody Hemi broke down the short side and engineered a try for wing Grayson Timea.
However a litany of errors soon saw Whanganui concede a large deficit. A malfunctioning lineout combined with clumsy handling gifted Te Upoko O Te Ika three tries before the interval.
Midfielder Kewa McMillan-Parata literally had the ball passed to him in the Whanganui in-goal area. Lock Mykel Herewini lumbered over after another disastrous fumble and wing Tony Smith raced away following a botched exit from the 22.
Hilton Mexted extended the defending champions’ lead early in the second-half with a penalty, before the industrious Herewini bagged a double to make it 36-5.
Whanganui emptied the bench and Te Upoko O Te Ika fell to sleep promoting a late fightback from the former. Tries to Aaron Paranihi, Kieran Hussey and Keanu Puki were good reward for some enterprising rugby.
Whanganui created plenty of chances throughout, but lacked precision and the collective dynamism in the loose that Te Upoko O Te Ika enjoyed.
The standouts for Te Upoko O Te Ika were Herewini, Remes-Styles, openside Manasseh Wineera and Ellis who in addition to his piercing runs made some telling tackles.
For Whanganui Hemi was a constant threat, second-five Te Tua Kemp battled gamely and Dylan Bowater and Paranihi added zest from the bench.
The Men’s B Division was taken out by the Hawke’s Bay Maori side (Te Matau), who defeated home team Wairarapa 47-14 in the earlier final today.
Hawke’s Bay scored four first half converted tries in leaping to a 28-7 lead at the interval. All four tries were made from clean breaks and good support play, also taking advantage of some often porous Wairarapa defence.
Wairarapa scored their first try through a forwards drive close to the line and missed a clear chance to score a similar try just before halftime to likely halve the deficit.
Hawke’s Bay pulled further ahead after the interval with three further tries to take a 47-7 lead.
Wairarapa put together a period consistent pressure late in the match and were rewarded with a consolation try.
The U18 and Women’s finals were on Saturday, with home side Wairarapa beating Manawatu teams to win both tournaments.
Men’s Division A Winners:
1987: King Country
1988: Hawke’s Bay
1991: Poverty Bay
1992: Te Matau a Maui – Hawke’s Bay
1993: Te Matau a Maui – Hawke’s Bay
1994: Te Matau a Maui – Hawke’s Bay
1996: Te Matau a Maui – Hawke’s Bay
1997: Tuwharetua Maniapoto
1998: Te Matau a Maui – Hawke’s Bay
1999: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2000: Te Matau a Maui – Hawke’s Bay Te Ma-toe A Maui’s
2001: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2002: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2006-2007: Not Held
2009: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2010: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2011: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2013: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2016: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)
2017: Te Upoko O Te Ika (Wellington)