BY STU PIDDINGTON
The Magpies are flying high after crushing Celtic in the Hamersley Cup grand final at the Alpine Energy Stadium.
The 41-10 win was Temuka’s first senior rugby title since 2001 and stopped Celtic’s incredible run of consecutive titles at 10.
Temuka went in as favourite having dropped only one game all season, while Celtic had got to the big dance the hard way and it was going to be tough.
The Magpies supporters covered the embankment with a sea of black and white and cheered every play from the first try, after two minutes, to full-time.
By halftime the Magpies had built an unassailable 27-0 lead as Celtic struggled to get its hands on the ball.
Temuka coaches Brendan Millar and Brendan Aitken had come up with the perfect game plan and their side stuck to it, running the big Celtic pack off its feet.
The Magpies scored five tries to two but it was also the accurate boot of first-five Faalele Iosua that got them home, landing seven from seven from all over the park.
Temuka stalwart Peter Grant, who played in Temuka’s run of seven straight titles in the 1970s and 1980s, was delighted with the style of the win.
“The team played really well and they deserved it.”
There were plenty of heroes for Temuka in a great team effort, with Temuka’s attacking brilliance matched by ferocious defence.
Iosua was outstanding while outside him Ricki Neame was limping at times but showed tenacity in defence.
Pita Siale was hard to stop at centre while wings David Hall and Kalavini Leatigaga were dangerous every time they had the ball and both were rewarded with excellent tries.
Fullback Liueli Simote also played his part.
At halfback both Caleb King and Tenari Saumani distributed the ball really well and did not let Celtic’s Willie Wright get the better of them.
No8 Philip Fuls had a really strong game with some great runs and uncompromising defence.
Lock Solomone Lavaka was everywhere and was rewarded with two tries, while front rowers Aifala Taelega and Pangi Iketau played their part, carrying the ball well.
Semisi Paseka also got through a power of work alongside co-captains Keith Darby and Paula Fonokalafi.
Celtic’s two tries came from wing Walker Setu and captain Nick Strachan, and while Setu’s gave them a faint hope, Strachan’s was a consolation.
A streaker also appeared late in the game and evaded the security guards to the cheers of the crowd.
There were scenes of sheer delight when the final whistle went and players embraced.
Temuka coach Millar said he was delighted for his team.
“It’s awesome. They played really well, we stuck to our structures.
“The first half was the killer. We broke open their defence and kept up the pressure.”
Celtic coach Andre de Joux was full of praise for a ruthless Temuka side.
“They were outstanding, like a wave. They forced us to play a game we didn’t want to play.”
The senior B Glover Cup title went to Celtic, who edged Temuka out 21-19 in an entertaining game.
Temuka had a chance to draw on full-time with a sideline conversion but it fell just short.