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STU PIDDINGTON

A disciplined Temuka team was untouchable in the Hamersley Cup senior rugby final on Saturday, beating Harlequins 33-3 to claim a three-peat of titles.

The Magpies flew high at Alpine Energy Stadium and Harlequins’ hopes of ending a 13-year title drought were left in tatters as Temuka kept up a terrific tempo.

Temuka simply dominated large parts of the game and only Harlequins’ tenacious defence early on saved them from a record defeat.

Temuka first five Faalele Iosua was superb, directing play brilliantly as well as landing seven penalties and a conversion for a 23-point haul, as his side played perfect finals footy and kept the scoreboard ticking over.

There were plenty of other Magpies who stood out in a complete 80-minute team performance.

Hooker and captain Junior Faavae and fellow front rowers Vaka and Aifala Taelega were excellent at scrum time and in general play.

Lock Solomone Lavaka made plenty of metres including a great run that fell only a couple of metres short early on, while veteran Paula Fonokalafi also played his part.

Loosies Keith Darby and Matt Ogg defended well and disrupted Harlequins’ momentum, with No8 Semisi Paseka also prominent at times.

Halfback Caleb McNoe gave Iosua great service while the midfield of Tenari Saumani and Ricky Neame carried the ball well and were staunch in defence.

The back three of Liueli Simote, Sione Osamu and Kalavini Leatigaga were dangerous when given the opportunity.

Coaches Luke Reihana and Ananam Mana came up with the perfect game plan to counter a big Harlequins pack.

Harlequins had beaten Temuka twice this season but couldn’t get any momentum and had to play out of their own half, with little errors and poor options proving costly.

Harlequins led 3-0 early with a penalty to captain Dean Edwards but were then kept scoreless for 70 minutes.

Iosua replied midway through the half having applied plenty of pressure on the Harlequins line.

A great run from second five Saumani set centre Neame up for an easy try after 28 minutes and from then the Magpies never really looked back.

Harlequins still had a chance only trailing 14-3 at the break but didn’t fire a shot in the second half.

Iosua added two further penalties before the Magpies scored a stunning try.

A Neame chip kick was scooped up by Simote, who offloaded to right wing Osamu who beat the defence and scored in the corner.

Iosua’s only blemish was missing a couple of drop goal attempts but the tactic kept Harlequins pinned in their own half.

While Harlequins did show plenty of mettle in defence, keeping their line largely, intact they couldn’t get any rhythm on attack.

Harlequins’ best were No8 Siu Kakala, hooker Sione Siale, lock Pita Halaifonua and openside Kamal Tackney, who tackled tirelessly.

Centre Sireli Buliruarua had a couple of strong runs early on but then spent most of the time on the back foot.

The introduction of halfback Jordan Hooke after the break did not pay the dividends it had in earlier games.

Magpies captain Faavae admitted it was a tough game.

“We owed them for two games earlier and knew we had to start strong.

“Also it was a matter of trusting our systems and each other.”

Faavae also thanked Temuka’s large group of fans, who had congregated on the embankment, for their support.

Temuka coach Reihana said the team knew it was important to play to a plan.

“We came up with something different, to keep away from their big men, and it worked.’

Harlequins captain Andrews paid tribute to Temuka.

“They played very well and made it difficult for us to get any momentum.’

In the Scott Cup (bottom four) final Mackenzie upset the in-form Pleasant Point side 23-19, after the Mud Dogs missed the top four only on points differential.

Harlequins won the Glover Cup 20-8 in the senior B final. Waimate beat Mackenzie 34-12 in the Woods Cup (bottom four) as Geraldine was disqualified.