Waimea Old Boys crowned champions

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The celebrations continued well into the weekend after Waimea Old Boys claimed their second rugby championship in a row.

They hadn’t beaten Taylor’s Contracting Wanderers in their two previous attempts this season, but Star & Garter Waimea Old Boys won when it really mattered, sealing a 41-12 victory in front of thousands of spectators at a sunny Trafalgar Park.

Captain Ben Coman says the win was pretty special for the club and heaped praise on the coaches for the work they’ve done throughout the season. “They’ve kept us pretty grounded throughout the whole year, and they’re pretty honest and know how to get the best out of us, and I think that gave us an edge in the end,” he says.

Waimea Old Boys were virtually at full strength for the game — the only key absentee being Chiefs’ wing James Lowe, who captained the team last year. And it was some of the big name players who stood up in the final, with man of the match Kaide Whiting scoring twice, while first five Marty Banks ripped through the Wanderers backline all afternoon and Billy Guyton kept the points ticking over — he ended the game with seven successful shots on goal. In the forwards, players like Peter Samu, Jeff Lepa and Dale Russ made their physical presence felt.

Ben says there was a maturity in the group now, and there was plenty of depth on the bench — two key facets to their squad. “We’ve got plenty of leaders, it’s not just myself as captain, a lot of guys carry it on their shoulders and have some pride for this jersey and this team, they’re Waimea through and through and that keeps us it good stead when we go into a battle like today.”

Co-coach Mark Milne was really rapt with the performance. “We knew they’d come back after last year but we’re rapt with how we played, we were pretty clinical in the end,” he says.

Wanderers captain Jesse Pitman says it’s always disappointing to lose a final, but Saturday’s result wasn’t through a lack of effort. “I’m extremely proud of the team and it’s just good to make another final. We didn’t get over the line but you’ve got to be in it to win it,” he says.

Jesse says the team was “rocked” during the week when it was confirmed his brother Trael Joass would miss the final, and be sidelined for the rest of the year, due to an issue with his heart. “He’s been bloody good for us and he gives us that direct running, and we just missed that today. He would’ve gone close to making the Makos this year and he’s pretty important to our team, he was really missed.”

And although Wanderers spoke of a “three year plan” in their return to the Car Company division one in 2012, Jesse still believes his young squad is on the right track to winning their first championship since 1955. “I think we’ve got four or five guys over 25 years old so we’ll keep coming, and because we haven’t won yet we’ll still be hungry. We’re still chasing it, we’ll be back next year and we’ll be back in the final but hopefully we can go one better.”