Pakuranga have produced an overwhelmingly dominant finals performance to win the Gallaher Shield 55-12 over University at Eden Park today.
The East Aucklanders came out firing; scoring four first half tries to lead 34-0 at the break.
University performed valiantly in the second half, despite a number of injuries, and were able to cross for two tries late in the game.
The Pakuranga team wasted little time getting front foot ball, and looked exciting from the outset.
Fullback Nick Smith made a huge break from within Pakuranga’s half only to be cut down 15 metres from the try line. From the resulting ruck University were penalised and first five-eighths Sam Vaevae slotted the first points of the match.
Vaevae made it 6-0 just minutes later before his team ran in four tries in 20 minutes.
The first came from a midfield scrum, number 8 Timoti Militoni ran blind, linking with Sam Prattley who got the offload away to Smith.
The crafty fullback ran 40 metres and in under the posts to extend the lead to 13-0.
University had the opportunity to get their first points on the board but first five eighths Jack Halpin was uncharacteristically off target with his penalty attempt at goal.
Instead it was Pakuranga scoring the points, second five-eighths Caleb Hall slicing through the University defence for his team’s second try of the match and the 20-0 lead.
Before the half was out, Pakuranga winger Aula Silipa nabbed and inctercept try and Smith had his second after receiving a great offload from Malakai Fekitoa.
While it was the backline running in for all the points, the Pakuranga forwards were getting through a massive amount of work, led ably by Tom McCartney, who put in a player of the day performance.
Pakuranga started the second half as they did the first, Fekitoa crossing for a try in the second minute of play.
Later in the half, bulldozing prop Sam Prattley stretched over the try line for points, while Maia Solomon wrong footed the last University defender to take Pakuranga’s lead out to 55-0.
University were not lying down, and spirited performances from Kevin Fuavao and Unaloto Pita in the backline helped to set up two late tries.
It was never going to be enough however, referee Angus Mabey blowing the whistle to confirm Pakuranga as the 2013 Gallaher Shield Champions.
University coach Jim Dickin praised Pakuranga.
“They were great today. That first 25 minutes we just couldn’t keep our hands on the ball – we weren’t on the same park today.
“We starting to get back into it in the second half but it was not enough,” said Dickin.
Pakuranga coach Pita Alatini said coaches often dream about the perfect game and that this final came close.
“That first half was just amazing. I knew something special was coming – the whole build up and there was just so much desire from the team.
“There are a lot of senior guys in this team that have come so far and they just had it in them today.”
Alatini commended the huge crowd that was in attendance and the support Pakuranga has received from their local community.
Pakuranga 55 (N Smith 2, C Hall, S Silipa, M Fekitoa, S Prattley, M Solomon tries, S Vaevae 2 pen, 7 con)
University 12 (R Grant, M King tries, 1 con) Halftime: 34-0