Waikato rugby league's biggest rivalry was on show at the Koroneihana sports day in Ngāruawāhia. A week after their senior teams turned out in the finals, it was the juniors from Taniwharau and Tūrangawaewae battling for the title.
For generations, for decades, these two teams have been butting heads, all in the name of rugby league.
Lionel Wairau, Taniwharau coach, says, “It's a huge rivalry. That's it, a rivalry. It's a battle out on the field.”
“Today is all about hospitality and camaraderie,” says Tūrangawaewae coach Tamiaho Herangi-Searancke.
Taniwharau and Tūrangawaewae turned up to contest the Waikato Rugby League under-15 championship title. Little motivation was needed for either side as they battled on the King's backyard.
Searancke says, “Last year, it was Taniwharau who were victorious in the final.”
“It's also fitting that we are all here to support the Coronation of our King, Kīngi Tūheitia,” says Wairau.
It was a fierce battle with little separating the two sides. Tūrangawaewae narrowly in front at half time.
Tūrangawaewae captain Te Umuariki Heremia-Tukere says, “Taniwharau is a difficult side. Whenever we play them, they seem to be everywhere.”
“It's tough coming up against Tūrangawaewae. Every game, we get smashed by their best players,” says Taniwharau captain Te Ohomauri Rapana.
Despite a consolation try to Taniwharau, in the end, Tūrangawaewae won 20-6 to claim the Waikato Rugby League under-15 championship title.
“A big acknowledgment goes out to the team. If it wasn't for them, we would not have got up and won”, says Heremia-Tukere.
The rivalry between these teams will continue to be fierce. In the end, it was the celebration of the Kīngitanga that was the winner.