Old Boys had to work for this one.
A modern club rugby dynasty added another chapter as the champion Oamaru club banked a sixth Citizens Shield in seven years with a 20-13 win over Valley in the final last Saturday.
But this was no romp in the sun for Old Boys, who were allowed very little room to move by an extremely tough and committed Valley team chasing its own taste of glory.
Old Boys were held scoreless between the 25th and 77th minutes, a credit to Valley’s toughness, but the men in black had to show their own steel to get their hands back on the shield.
“That’s finals footy for you,” Old Boys player-coach Lemi Masoe said.
“Every team puts everything on the table, and Valley did that. They really shut us down at times.
“The ball just bounced on our side a little bit.”
For Old Boys, reclaiming the Citizens Shield after losing it to Maheno in heartbreaking fashion last year was a massive relief.
They sailed through the first half of this season but then had to dig deep when star players Maene Mapusaga and Siosiua Ngalo had to return to the islands.
“We’ve been working really hard this year. There was a bit of pain from last year and everyone was pretty keen to get the shield back.”
No-one worked harder this year than Masoe, the ageless – technically 36 – midfield marvel who proved on Saturday he was still as good as any rugby player in the province.
He and prop Ralph Darling were under the microscope as player-coaches for the first time, and Masoe acknowledged there had been some scepticism about how the dual roles would work.
“Everything seemed impossible at the start of the season. People were thinking trying to be player-coaches was going to be too hard in the first year.
“But it was something we believed we could do as we start off our coaching career.
“It’s a relief for us, really, because there was a lot of pressure.”
Masoe is in fantastic shape and could still have plenty to offer on the field, but said he had made no firm plans about playing next year.
He and his team-mates had to dig deep on Saturday, especially in the second half as Valley, on the back of its tireless forward and classy first five Dan Lewis, dominated for long stretches.
Valley, which trailed 15-7 at the break, was held up twice in a dominant period at the start of the second half, and brought it back to 15-13 with a pair of Lewis penalties.
Old Boys clung to that lead until an Una Ofa try with minutes remaining seemed to seal the deal.
But this Valley side has real ticker, and the country men threw everything into a big finish.
A late attacking lineout and two attacking scrums with time all but up raised the tantalising prospect of a second straight extra-time final before a Valley knock-on brought matters to a close.
Valley had taken a 7-0 lead when a Lewis penalty bounced off the posts and Sam Sturgess showed his wits to scoop up the rebound and score.
Old Boys dominated the rest of the first half with tries to hooker Unga Kefu and Masoe either side of an Inoke Naufahu penalty.
It was not really a final for individuals to shine, although Filipo Veamatahau and Manulua Taiti were the pick of the Old Boys forwards and Lofa Taukei had a couple of good moments in the backline.
Lewis did everything he could for Valley, which also got cracking performances out of No8 Jake Greenslade and lock Cedric Laurent.