Stoke celebrates its first division 2 title in 14 years. Photo: Chris Symes/Shuttersport.

Stoke win thrilling second division final

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Just like the Tasman Trophy and sub-union finals, it took an extra 20 minutes to decide the division two champions for 2019.

Stoke and Riwaka were locked up at 18-all after regulation time at Greenmeadows on Saturday afternoon.

But it was a 98th minute try to replacement prop Kody Coleman that secured Stoke’s first title in 14 years.

Skipper Nick Max was delighted following the dramatic result.

“We’ve been a tight-knit team for the last couple of seasons and haven’t quite got there, so it’s great to get the win.”

Nick says, while the lungs were bursting a bit, the match warranted the extra period.

“I think it was a fair result going to overtime, it was that close.”

Riwaka dominated territory and possession early on but it was the hosts who opened the scoring through the boot of Jacob Curtis.

Riwaka fullback Shoquille Rangi finally broke the try scoring shackles after 20 minutes of highly physical rugby.

However, Stoke responded just before the break when hooker Craig Groome stormed over in the right corner after a period of sustained pressure on Riwaka’s line.

Cutis nailed the side-line conversion for a three-point lead before Taylor Cowman doubled it with Stoke’s second penalty goal.

The visitors struck first after half-time through winger Nereo Naqurutia on the back of a superb run by replacement Jacob Limmer, as Riwaka trailed by just one point.

Penalties began to mount against both sides and Riwaka stole back the advantage though Sam Hannon’s boot.

Prop Adam Brown had a regulation shot to retake the lead but pushed it wide. However, Hannon would make no such mistake, putting his side five points ahead with ten minutes to play.

Dylan Phillips then squared the scores with six minutes remaining.

After a number of phases, Stoke were finally awarded a penalty thirty metres out, right in front. However, it was pushed wide to send the sides to extra time.

Hannon opened the scoring in the extra period with his third penalty, the only points of the first ten minutes.

Hot on attack, Stoke turned down an easy shot at goal in the dying moments of the second and opted to tap and go.

Several phases later, Kody Coleman powered over for the match winner to a rapturous reaction from the Stoke faithful.

Scorers:

Stoke 23 (Groome, Phillips, Coleman tries, Curtis 1 cons, 1 pen, Cowman 1 pen)

Riwaka 21 (Rangi, Naqurutia tries, Hannon 1 cons, 3 pens)