Mighty Maroons taste Maddison Trophy glory for first time since 2009
Taradale Rugby and Sports blindside flanker Josh Eden-Whaitiri tasted Maddison Trophy glory for the second time in four years yesterday.
Three years after helping his father Dion Whaitiri's Clive Rugby and Sports club win the most prestigious trophy in Hawke's Bay premier club rugby Eden-Whaitiri, 31, was a key architect as the Mighty Maroons beat defending champions Hastings Rugby and Sports 21-15 in the McLean Park-hosted final.
"It's pretty special to help Dad's club win it and then come over to Mum's club and help them win it," Eden-Whaitiri said referring to his mother Tania Eden.
"With Taradale winning the Nash Cup for the first round earlier in the year and then winning the Black and White Shield for the most successful club across all the grades we couldn't be happier. Those were all the goals we set at the start of the year," Eden-Whaitiri explained.
"I'll be back for Taradale's 125th birthday season next year. If we could retain the Maddison next year that would be a good finale for me," he said.
"Our defence and smart footy paid off yesterday. Hastings are a quality team. We couldn't back off and you could feel the momentum change in the second half but we managed to hold them out," Eden-Whaitiri added referring to Hastings fighting back from a 21-0 halftime deficit.
Taradale co-coach Boyd Carswell pointed out all of his squad including lock-loosie Andrew Gardner, who played in Taradale's previous Maddison Trophy-winning side in 2009, will be back for the 125th season. Although four weeks ago shepherd Carswell was doubtful.
"I started doing 60-hour weeks because we've taken on 1500 hectares of extra grazing. But we relish pressure so we'll be back."
Taradale captain and prop Namatahi Waa agreed the final was the predicted physical battle up front.
"We stuck to it as a team and as a family. To our supporters up in the stands well done ... you are the backbone of the team and the club."
Hastings captain and No 8 Jacob Devery said he was super proud of the effort put in by his lads but he was also quick to praise Taradale's ability to suffocate Hastings with their defensive work.
Along with Waa and Eden-Whaitiri, openside flanker Nathan Tweedy and hooker Gene Syminton, who scored two tries, impressed in the cohesive Taradale pack. Devery and prop Dennis Tapusoa had huge work rates for Hastings. Both backlines cancelled each other out for most of the match played in front of more than 1200 spectators in miserable weather conditions.
Taradale Rugby and Sports fullback Kalani Grant converted his 75th minute try to give his side a 26-25 victory over Central Rugby and Sports in the colts final which was played as a curtain-raiser to the Maddison Trophy final. Earlier yesterday the MAC Premier Reserves beat Waipawa Country United 42-32 in the division two final.
In last night's finals, also at McLean Park, Havelock North beat Aotea Sports 44-12 in the division one final and Clive Rugby and Sports beat Taradale Rugby and Sports 29-18 in the tussle for division three glory.
Scorers in the Maddison Trophy final:
Taradale Rugby and Sports 21 (Gene Syminton 2, Majella Tufuga tries; Brad Truesdale 2 pens), Hastings Rugby and Sports 15 (Dennis Tapusoa, Jacob Devery tries; Connor McLeod pen, Jordan Thompson-Dunn con). HT: 21-0.