“I scored a try just after halftime to make it 24-3. In the heat of the moment I got too excited and jumped so high I popped my shoulder. I had to watch the rest of the game from the sideline in a sling,” Manurewa High School captain RJ Ioane ruefully laughs when reflecting on the Rainbow's End Counties/Waikato First XV final last Thursday.
For the remainder of the match, Cambridge High School made the Manurewa captain and flanker extremely nervous.
“We lost our discipline and they came back slowly. We had two yellow cards and suddenly it was 24-20. The boys dug deep and we held on, but it was hard to watch,” Ioane reflects.
The passionate Ioane was the most relieved individual at Growers Stadium, Pukekohe when the fulltime whistle sounded and Manurewa were the champions. The 2016 runners up tag was a bitter pill to swallow.
“We had quite a few boys back this year so our goal this season was to win the championship. We have a brotherhood now and it’s awesome to be the champions,” Ioane reveals.
St. John’s College, Hamilton has been dethroned. In 2016, St. John’s beat Manurewa on Land Rover First XV rugby and in the final. Their 2017 encounter was fierce with Manurewa winning 25-23.
“That was an emotional win because we wanted revenge. We knew if we could beat St. John’s we could win the title.” Ioane explains.
Manurewa had one setback when they were toppled by round robin winners Te Awamutu College, 27-32.
“We let ourselves down with our discipline. We learned a valuable lesson that day.” Ioane believes.
Manurewa won five of nine games by less than 10 points vindication for the existence of the competition which is only two years old.
“It was a close and tough competition. Definitely better than last year,” Ioane asserts.
St John’s College beat Te Awamatu College 26-16 in the playoff for third and fourth.
Manurewa have a number of handy players, but prop Tevita Kofeloa and second five Tala Potifara are particularly accomplished and both earned selection for the Chiefs Under-18 camp in the term two holidays.
Manurewa’s next goal is to qualify for the National Co-education Championship in September.
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