Wanderers claim Nelson Bays division two title
Wanderers celebrate victory after an enthralling division two final on Saturday. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport
By Jonty Dine [Nelson Weekly / Nelson App]
After a disastrous start to the season, Wanderers have ended its 2020 campaign by winning the Car Company Nelson Bays second division title on Saturday afternoon in a dramatic final against Marist.
Gareth Palmer receives the trophy from Tony Woodall and Shane Drummond. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport
Suffering two consecutive defeats to start the year, Wanderers went on to win eight games on the trot culminating in a 17-13 win in front of a boisterous Brightwater crowd.
Gareth Palmer receives the trophy from Nelson Bays President Tony Woodall and The Car Company's Shane Drummond. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport
Skipper Gareth Palmer says it was a fairy-tale finish to a year filled with adversity.
"To start the season the way we did and end it like that is bloody good and a great group of lads to do it with."
Gareth says it was an intense affair worthy of a final.
"Marist probably deserved it with the amount of ball they had in that second half, but for us to hard up on the frontline for our club was good stuff."
He says the side are set for some serious celebrations this evening. "There will be a few beers for the boys, we will go hard."
Both sides missed penalty shots inside the opening ten with plenty of enterprising rugby being played.
It didn’t take long before some drama unfolded with Wanderers number eight Steve Soper sent to the sin bin for a late hit on Sione Inisi.
Marist quickly took advantage and would open the scoring through a clinical set piece move with first five Seta Sauri waltzing through the defence.
Wanderers replied quickly as Scott Reed went in on the back of a powerful rolling maul.
Marist struck straight back courtesy of a storming surge from number eight Teanikumi Piukala.
The tit-for-tat continued, Soper making up for his early indiscretion with try from a smartly taken quick tap, Palmer's deadly radar from the sideline giving his team a 14-10 lead.
Ironically, it was Soper on the receiving end of an illegal shot that sent Piukula to the bin for ten to close out a furious first fourty minutes.
Paul O’Regan closed the gap to one to kick off the second half before Palmer responded in kind as the scoring opportunities dried up and defences tightened.
Both sides were guilty of simple errors with the pressure mounting.
Marist enjoyed a wealth of possession and territory as the clock ticked away but were unable to capitalise as Wanderers were ferocious in defence.
The visitors squandered multiple chances to clinch it at the death however, Wanderers held firm and closed out the enthralling win.
Wanderers 17 (Reed, Soper tries, Palmer 2 cons 1 pens) def Marist 13 (Sauria, Piukala tries, O’Regan 1 pen)