Revenge was on the minds of the Ngāti Kahu Sharks after losing last year's Taitokerau Rugby League grand final. This weekend, they played hosts to the defending champions, the Kaikohe Lions, who were looking to claim back-to-back titles.
One of the giants in the Sharks forward pack, Pene Taui Jones, crossed for two tries early in the game.
"It's like the saying goes, "Hawaikinui Hawaikiroa". Last year, they were it. This year, we're the new blood for Ngāti Kahu with connections right across Muriwhenua. It's like a battle between the East and West coasts of Northland. Today, the tides clashed and we remain standing while they went down."
The Kaikohe Lions replied with two tries of their own to close the gap before the Sharks hit the nitro button to post four more tries and lead 28-12 at half time.
Their captain Billy Slade said, "Going back-to-back was the plan but we came up against a strong Ngāti Kahu Sharks side this year and hard luck."
It's a competition that was created to address to the long distance travel required of teams in the Far North with nine clubs in this year's competition and more joining next year.
Its promoter Hone Harawira said, "From Moerewa right up to Te Aupōuri and all the clubs in between, I must thank you all for your strong support. And it's not only the game but developing real relationships amongst communities in the Far North is very important."
The Sharks scored two tremendous tries early in the second half blowing the score out to 40-12. From there, it became a scrappy event with a number of yellow cards given to players from both teams. The Lions came back to score in the closing moments to bring the final score to 46-12, with their captain praising the competition.
Billy Slade said, "I don't think there were any defaults this year. So everyone's got a team and it's strong, and it's got a good brotherhood and community spirit going around all the clubs. You know they might not be the best players but they still get a chance to play rugby league. A chance to share it around with the whānau."
While the NRL is the most famous of rugby league competitions, in the Far North, the TRL is on everyone's lips.
Hone Harawira says, "Now the people have seen that they can manage their own initiatives, not only in rugby league, but all things, so we need to congratulate them for taking control of the current situation."
Pine Taui Jones says, "The benefits of TRL (Taitokerau Rugby League) is that everyone turns out to support Ngāti Kahu and that enables us to develop ourselves amongst our own."
The Ngāti Kahu Sharks are the winners of the Taitokerau Rugby League grand final for this year.