An early try by the Panthers signalled their intention to reclaim their championship title – but the Cowboys were hard on their heels capitalising on Panthers errors and making the penalty goals count to trail the Panthers by two points 8-6 at the half time break.
The Cowboys crowd were feeling optimistic for their team and in the Panthers corner Tupapa supporters were quietly confident.
Another Panthers error and Cowboy Basil Matapo’s trusty boot put the ball between the goal posts and the Cowboys nudge ahead of the score board 9-8.
The Cowboys were willing time to speed up as they braced against a resurgent Panthers side and with just minutes left in the game the Panthers calm under pressure resulted in 6 points in the dying three minutes of the game to break Cowboy hearts and win their chance to reclaim their club rugby championships.
Despite the valiant efforts of Robert Heather and his talented mix of rising rugby stars and experienced heads, they now hang up their boots for 2019 and take their front row seats for this weekend’s grand final between the Tupapa Panthers and Avatiu Eels at Raemaru Park in Arorangi.