IT’S a Pirates-YMP premier rugby final for the third year in a row after their semifinal wins against High School Old Boys and OBM respectively on Saturday.
While reigning champions Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates took the 80-minute route, YMP needed 109 minutes to beat Enterprise Cars OBM at Rugby Park.
YMP centre Pamona Samupo was the hero when his try with one minute remaining in sudden-death time gave the Magpies a 30-25 win.
It was heartbreaking for OBM who led 22-19 with 80 minutes gone in normal time and 25-22 with time up at the end of the second 10-minute spell of extra time.
In the dying seconds of normal time, OBM only had to kick the ball into touch to reach their first Lee Brothers Shield final since 2004. However, Jacob Smith’s kick was charged down by YMP flanker Shayde Skudder and YMP were then awarded a penalty 15 metres from the posts and 10m outside the left-hand upright.
The pressure was on YMP first five-eighth Brad Turei, with teammates, reserves, coaching staff and supporters unable to look. The roar told them Turei held his nerve to send the game into extra time.
OBM, who had fought back from a 19-7 deficit, hit the front when fullback Scott McKinley landed a superb penalty with the last kick of the first period of extra time.
Coach Stu Blair’s men held on to the three-point lead until the the last seconds of extra time when Turei stepped up again. This time the No.10 banged home a 35m kick to force the game into sudden-death — five minutes each way, with the first to score going through to the final.
If neither team scored, OBM, having won the previous match between the teams, would advance.
The sides changed ends after five minutes with no addition to the score.
OBM only needed to keep YMP out which they did until the final minute when YMP launched one last, desperate attack that finished with Samupo scoring a try in the corner.
It was the first time this season YMP had scored four tries in a match . . . what a time to do it.
“I’m absolutely rapt for our guys but you have to feel for OBM,” said YMP coach Denzil Moeke. “They looked to have won it probably three times but we talked before the game about never giving in, playing for each other and the whanau, no matter what the score."
Moeke paid “special tribute” to his whole 22 and some players who didn’t make the bench. “Everybody wants to play in these games but you can only pick 22. The support from the 22 and those who missed out was awesome. They are every bit a part of this win as those who started.”
Blair had every reason to be gutted.
“We should have won. We had our chances but at the end of the day it’s all about points on the board and YMP put them there, so good on them.
“But I feel for our guys. They gave it everything and I think everyone would agree that after the first 20 minutes we were the better team.”
That is not sour grapes from a losing coach. OBM were the better team for all but the opening 20 minutes and the final 60 seconds.
Prop Anaru Poihipi opened the scoring with a try after 11 minutes of YMP dominance. Eru Wharerau claimed possession from a lineout and passed to his locking partner and captain Willis Tamatea, and the forwards drove Tamatea towards the tryline.