Monday 28 May 2012 | Published in Regional
It’s been a long time between drinks for the Titikaveka Bulldogs who will be lapping up defeating defending champions the Avatiu Eels 9-8 in a tight and muddy battle at the BCI Stadium on Saturday.
The Bulldogs last held the championship trophy in 2001 when they defeated the Eels. When the two teams took to the field again on Saturday – the Bulldogs had mongrel and fire in their belly.
Titikaveka villagers braved the stormy conditions and came out in numbers wearing blue to support their boys.
The Bulldogs certainly looked like they meant business and dominated the game from the start.
A team effort in the torrential rain saw the Bulldogs score the first try to take the early lead 4-0 which was soon extended to 8-0 when young gun Teariki Tou slotted in two penalty goals.
Try as they might, the Eels couldn’t breach the Bulldogs line but a penalty goal by veteran Terry Piri finally put the Eels on the board to trail 8-2 at the half time break.
Early in the second spell a heated scuffle erupted and resulted in the referee sending two players off the field for the entire game which left 12 men on each side to battle it out in the rain.
A rare error by the Bulldogs in their own 22 saw the Eels pounce and slip in a try through Bobby Hansen to tie up the score 8-all, sending supporters in both camps to the edge of their seat.
Impressive scrambling defence by the Bulldogs kept the Eels at bay and with ball in hand – Bulldogs star Teariki Tou slotted in a drop kick to inch ahead 9-8.
The Eels also had a shot at a drop goal but the it fell flat and the Bulldogs held on to win the battle, sending their supporters into hysterics. The revelry carried on at the Kent Hall where the whole village celebrated the triumph of their premier rugby league team.
In other grade grand finals the Panthers had a clean sweep, winning the under 13 match 28-16 against the Eels, under 16 match 18-16 against the Bulldogs as well as the under 19 grade 20-18 against the Bears.
The Arorangi Bears reserve grade made it 10 years in a row when they convincingly beat the Ngatangiia Sea Eagles team 21-10.
Congratulations to all the grand final winners.