The Glenora Bears have claimed their first SAS Fox Memorial Premiership title since 1999, downing the Pt Chevalier Pirates 26-0 in today's grand final at Mt Smart Stadium #2.
There's been little doubt that these have been the two best teams in Auckland this year, but the Bears performance proves they deserve to be at the top.
Glenora were first to put points on the board, powering down field before prop Kurt Bernard reached over to score. Halfback Phil Kingi converted for an early 6-0 lead.
It was a game fought largely in the middle of the park which saw some gutsy defence from both sides. 15 minutes later and Glenora hooker Zac Tippins bolted over to get up 10-0. Kingi added the extras to double their lead 12-0.
Pt Chevalier hooker Tevita Latu put the Pirates under more pressure when he was sin binned for a high tackle leaving them one man down.
It didn't look good for the minor premiers with the Bears scoring just one minute later through second rower Fatani Manukia to get up 16-0.
Some playmaking produced by interchange prop Graeme Sua-Poe saw Glenora add another six before the half-time break, taking a 22-0 lead to the sheds.
On several occasions Pt Chevalier found an opportunity to score, but they couldn't get past the brilliant defensive line being held by the Bears.
More pressure built as the rain started to pour causing some ball handling errors on both sides.
13 minutes into the second stanza and Glenora did it again with powerhouse second rower Epalahame Lauaki storming through the pack to get winger James Taumata over the line.
It was a battle of bulk in the middle which got heated in the final minutes, sending Latu off for the second time along with Glenora second rower Manukia leaving both sides to finish with 12 players.
That didn't count for much in the end leaving Glenora to secure an impressive 26-0 victory at full-time to claim the 2017 SAS Fox Memorial Premiership title.
Pt Chevalier captain Dylan Moses said it was a win well deserved by the Glenora Bears.
"There are no excuses. They were the better team on the day. They worked hard all season and they deserve the win today," he said.
Glenora captain Phil Kingi said Pt Chevalier have been the pinnacle of the Fox Memorial for the past five years.
"They've really set the standard for playing top-footy, so full credit to the boys for their hard work on the field to get us the win today," he said.
"A big thank you to coach Bernie Perenara - who was also named Coach of the Year at the ARL awards evening on Thursday night - for the work he's put into this team."
"A lot of work which is done off the field is just as important as what is done on the field and it's all in support of our game-day performances.
"It's been a long time since we've won the Fox, but we're taking it back home out west to celebrate with all of our Glenora supporters."
Glenora 26 (Kurt Bernard, Zac Tippins, Fatani Manukia, Tulson Caird, James Taumata tries; Phil Kingi x3 goals) Pt Chevalier 0.
Auckland Rugby League
Level 2, 17-19 Beasley Avenue, Penrose, Auckland 1061 I ph 09 5712000