Wairere returns to the top of NZ's biggest club competition

By Te Ao Māori News
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A focused and clinical Wairere side has returned to the top of New Zealand's biggest and most prestigious club competition. 

The Waikato side reigned supreme in the open men's section of the annual Whakatane Touch tournament on Saturday after a heavy onslaught by defending champions Playin Up from Auckland. 

Playin Up we're eager to defend their title. But midfielder, Wiremu Takerei, knew they had a mammoth task she'd of them, "it's always tough to get a repeat. Everyone's trying to knock you off the top spot."

That's precisely what Wairere set out to achieve. Drawing first blood in the opening minutes. 

"The priority for us was to work hard. We knew they would be strong," said Wairere veteran, Mita Graham. 

Less than two minutes later, Playin Up showed their class wrapping around to score in the corner. 

The two sides were at each other's throats for much of the first half. But, clever play by experienced play-makers Mita Graham pushed Wairere out to a 3-1 lead heading into the break. 

Takerei said, "We knew we were always in it, just a few things that let us down and we know what we need to fix."

Wairere didn't relent in the second spell with Playin Up also refusing to back down, clawing back a 3-4 deficit. 

But fatigue and a lack of cohesion put the defending champs of their paces. 

They couldn't escape Wairere's attacks, eventually taking out the final rematch 6-4. 

Takerei says, "it always hurts, it always burns when you lose one, you always want to get it back and it showed today."

It's Wairere's second title in three years. 

Team veteran, Mita Graham says while they're elated, their driving force is what's important.  

"Our team motto is success breeds success. Winning is not the priority. But it's what we achieve off the field in terms of hard work, looking after our families, our partners and our children. 

Wairere add this title to the Elite Touch League and National Māori title they won late last year.