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PGG Wrightson Division 1
In what was unarguably the match of the PGG Wrightson Combined competition so far this season, Waihora beat Lincoln 27-25 at Tai Tapu Domain last weekend.
After last season’s Coleman Shield final this match always promised to be a classic and thankfully it delivered with both sides entering into the spirit of it.
Waihora took the early initiative and was up 14-0 before Lincoln came back to narrow the gap to 17-10 by half-time.
The second half was almost all Lincoln as the red and blacks did their best to take control of the match. Still, a Waihora charge-down and try by half-back Chris Richardson followed by a sideline conversion by Fraser Campbell with three minutes remaining gave the home side a breath-taking win.
“It was everything that you could have wished for,” Waihora coach Kahu Carey says. “The spirit of rugby is always talked about, but this game had it in droves.
“There was no dirty play involved, while both teams really entered into the spirit of it. I can’t recall seeing a bigger crowd at any club match.”
What was at stake in this match was the Greg Sparks Memorial Trophy. This has virtually belonged to Lincoln in recent seasons, although the home side had plenty of motivation as Greg’s son Scott was in this Waihora side.
“It was a major motivation for us,” Kahu says. “It was a game that we had targeted and winning it is just terrific for the team and for the club.”
Kahu says that now Waihora has beaten Lincoln in the combined competition the pressure has come off it somewhat and they can now enjoy their rugby.
“We’ve won the Coleman Shield and we’ve won the Greg Sparks Memorial and so we can tick these things off. Our next goal is to win the combined country competition, whether that is this season or in the future.”
Kahu laughs when he says that there were a number of so-called ‘retirements’ in the Waihora clubhouse on Saturday. “I know that a lot of the guys were hanging around for this and it is so satisfying to have done it.”
Lincoln coach Bob Kerr was gracious in defeat, saying that Waihora hung on in there. He says, however, that his side had handed the match to Waihora thanks to a number of mistakes they had made at crucial times.
“We will certainly not be scared to play them again,” he says. “Matches between Lincoln and Waihora are always intense and this was no different. We were naturally disappointed to lose, but we will move on.”
Waihora now travels to Darfield this weekend. Lincoln is at home at Collegiate, although the bonus point they picked up still puts them at the head of the table. Lincoln, however, is still to play Southern, whom they meet away from home after Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Southbridge and Glenmark come up against each other in the top of the table clash in Section Two of the Competition this weekend, while Kaiapoi host Prebbleton, Ashley head South to play Hampstead, and Rakaia travel to Burnham.
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