Old Boys have retained the Oamaru Liquorland Citizens Shield for a fourth successive year with a 24-11 win over Athletic Marist at the Whitestone Contracting Stadium on Saturday.
The results of the two sides’ three previous encounters this season of a win each and a draw made for a perfectly poised final between the two best sides the competition had to offer.
Athies drew first blood, with a penalty from Ben Palmer five minutes in, before the first five-eighth added another for a 6-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes.
The holders responded in kind, with two penalties of their own from Seti Talalelei to level the score after 20 minutes, as both teams battled for territory.
Athies then produced the first try of the contest, through winger Kasanova Soane on the half-hour mark, but Old Boys were quick to reply with a try from Talalelei for a 11-11 half time score.
The second half continued as the first half ended, with a try from Sala Pi’i to put Old Boys ahead for the first time, as his side began to look the more dominant.
Unlike Old Boys, Athies couldn’t provide a response as the black and reds upped the intensity to extend their lead to 21-11, followed by another well-taken penalty from Talalelei.
Athies rallied in the final 10 minutes but Old Boys were defensively sound and continued to soak up the pressure to take the much-deserved victory.
Athies backs coach Jon Sinclair said it was difficult for his side to assert themselves once Old Boys gained momentum.
“It was hard. They were attacking well and we just had to defend,” he said.
“It wasn’t as fast-paced as we’d have liked and once they got momentum, then it was difficult.”
Sinclair said his team would now focus on winning the shield next year, with some key personnel returning, and praised the performance of dynamic openside Steven Banks.
“Everyone did well and we’re looking forward to taking the title next year,” he said.
“Josh Julius will be coming back, which is a big boost for Athies. He’s a very talented midfielder and I thought captain Steven Banks was great. He’s been great all season and did really well in the final.”
In the day’s curtain-raiser, Excelsior won the Burns Shield in the President’s Grade over Valley 27-21.
Old Boys 24: Pen, Seti Talalelei (4). Tries Seti Talalelei, Sala Pi’i. Con, Seti Talalelei (1).
Athletic Marist 11; Tries, Kasanova Soane. Pen, Ben Palmer (2).
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: JAMES FORD – Old Boys players Will Keenan, Chris Perry and Wade Hodgen hold the shield on Saturday.