It was a win and loss to Taniwharau Rugby League club at their home ground, Davies Park in Huntly on Saturday. The Premier Reserve team going head to head with Hukanui in their final.
"It was an exhausting effort, a tough effort. We knew that Taniwharau was going to come out here today and put it to us. They put us to the sword at the start but we just managed to weather the storm," said Hukanui Captain Zane Milliken.
Newly crowned as Premier Reserve Grade champions, Hukanui dominated Taniwharau in their comprehensive 34-12 win against the home side.
"For me personally, it's huge because I've respected this club ever since I started playing rugby league. They're a juggernaut out here at the Waikato. It's just pure pleasure," said Milliken.
Millikin says that the feat is not only a victory to be had by those on the field, but to be shared with those who have staunchly supported the team throughout the season.
"It's huge, we feel it from the side-lines that they've got your back, one hundred percent and when you're down and out - it's just that little word that might tell you to get up. It's just awesome. It feels like you've got 50-500 people on your back pushing you forward and that's the truth. Proud moment for us. We haven't been in the final for a few years. Just giving them back what they gave us,” said Milliken.
The competition could be seen off-field as well. The home side supporters not willing be outdone, proudly flooding Davies Park in green and gold in support of their local heroes against College Old Boys.
"One of our kaumātua who passed away a few years ago, there was a big kōrero that always he tells us - "Don't tell me, show me". I think we did that today. Big credit to COB. Full credit to them for the awesome season they've had," said Taniwharau forward, Pawhare Brown.
If supporters' excitement levels weren't high enough they were elevated even more with the appearance of Newcastle Knights player, Kalyn Ponga to dish out the honours to the winning team.
"Full credit to Waikato Rugby League for what they're doing for us. And to get him down here is just another honour. To see the grassroots rugby league getting high powerhouses like to come down and give a bit of his time, to showcase what he's done,” said Brown.
Taniwharau defeated College Old Boys 28-12, ending their 2018 season with a back-to-back regional Premier title