Galbraith Nelson put in its performance of the season to beat championship leaders Waimea Old Boys and win back the Noel Barton Trophy at Trafalgar Park on Saturday.
It’s been a tough year for Nelson, with plenty of losses sparingly broken up with the odd win. Its dismal record means that they have not qualified for the Car Company Nelson Bays division one semi-finals this weekend.
But at home on Saturday, Nelson got its hands on one piece of valuable silverware in the final minutes.
Boosted by Super rugby stars, Nelson beat the championship favourites, 28-26 with a dropped goal minutes from full time from David Havilli.
Nelson coach Kade Heke says it was a huge team effort. “It felt like everyone on that field gave it everything they had. We didn’t pick a man of the match, everyone played well.”
Kade says the Noel Barton is a special trophy for the club.
“Noel was a big driver for us once we knew our season was over. Noel epitomises what it is to be a Nelson club man.”
The current management also has plenty of connections to the name on the trophy. He is Kade’s great uncle and a godfather to assistant coach Andrew Goodman and manager Stuart Damon.
“We celebrated it pretty hard on Saturday night. It was a special win.”
Kade says while the win ended Nelson’s season on a high, the overall campaign has been disappointing.
“We were so close in so many games, and it’s disappointing that we didn’t put us in a position to push for a place in the semi, but hopefully we’ll have most of our young guys returning next year.”
In the other games, Stoke were humiliated 100-3 by Kahurangi with the referee even having to call the game eight minutes from full-time to end the romp.
Wanderers had a strong 26-7 win over Marist in Brightwater, and the two sides will meet again in this weekend’s semi final at the same venue.
Waimea Old Boys will host Kahurangi in Richmond in the other semi final.
Both games will kick off at 3pm this Saturday.