The wizards have finally found the right formula.
After failing to beat Waimea Old Boys in two championship games in as many years, Taylor’s Contracting Wanderers, nicknamed the Wizards, finally beat their arch-rivals 15-11 in Saturday’s Tasman Trophy final.
It is the club’s first major senior club rugby title in at least six decades.
Star & Garter Waimea may have been unbeaten all year and they may have been playing at home, but it was Wanderers that looked the more likely all game.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half, Waimea could only rack up an eight point lead at the break. Many side-line spectators felt that wasn’t enough.
Wanderers captain Trael Joass says the plan was to pressure the hosts and “put them in a position they hadn’t been all year”.
“We thought it was a 26 point wind so we were happy at half time,” says Trael.
Waimea threatened on several occasions in the second half but Wanderers dominated territory. A try in the right-hand corner to Jesse Pitman tied the game up at 8-8 after an earlier penalty goal to the visitors.
Waimea took the lead again halfway through the second half thanks to a quick-thinking dropped goal from Waimea’s halfback.
But in the final ten minutes, Wanderers continued to press and midfielder Sione Holani broke through the Waimea defence and scored a spectacular try next to the posts as his team mates swarmed him.
After the successful conversion Wanderers had a 15-11 lead, which they were able to defend until the full time whistle.
Trael says the win was a huge relief for his side. “It’s been a long time coming and we’ve had pressure all week from the supporters. But it’s awesome for the boys and awesome for the club. We’re got a great thing going here.”
The game doubled as a round-robin game in the Car Company Nelson Bays division one club rugby championship, a competition Wanderers and Waimea are dominating.
If form continues, the two sides will meet once again in the club rugby final next month and many rugby fans will be thrilled to watch these two sides go at it again.