Hawaiki Roa Go Back 2 Back Against Brave Taranaki Newcomers

Before we get to the Men’s Main Competition, special shoutout to Kia Kaha, the NZ team who was victorious in the Social Division final. They played a rugged Ngakau Toa Cook Island side in the final and emerged victorious. In a compeitition which featured the Indian Ocean Territories, Pikaia Warriors and RLSWA, all 5 teams came our firing and played in a great spirit. But it was the Red and Black side who emerged victorious at the end and congratulations to all those.

Hawaiki Roa are the Harmony Cup 2022 Men’s Champions once again, with a heartstopping 12-10 victory in the Grand Final against newcomers Taranaki. An amazing competition this year, the Men’s main competition fielded 20 sides and as you can see from the final table it is becoming a huge competition with sides representing so many different nationalities.

Hawaiki Roa went through the tournament undefeated, seeing off the likes of Te Puru, Perth Samoa, Are Toa and PNG Red Dust in the pool stages. While not completely clicking in all of those games, they were professional in their approach and looked every bit the defending champions. They then saw off a troublesome Ngati Kahungunu side by a try in their quarterfinal and faced their old rival, the Bushrangers for the right to play in the grand final. They were too quick out of the blocks for the Aussies in this game and after opening up a 14-0 lead, coasted to the finish line to setup another tilt at the title.

Taranaki didn’t have it all their own way. Drawn in a pool with powerhouses the Western Fijians and Bushrangers, they suffered a 22-10 loss to the Western Fijians on Friday, and then watched the Fijians go down to the Bushrangers that same night. Which meant they had to knock the Bushrangers off and hope their for and against would hold up when the finals were decided. Luckily they scraped into the finals, and proved too strong for a young RLSWA side, which put them into a semi final against one of the pre tournament favourites in Perth Indigenous. And they started on fire, opening up a big lead before the Indigenous side came storming home, only for the clock to work against the Indigenous boys, and sending the Taranki side into the finals in their first crack.

In an all NZ final, the heavens opened up right before kickoff to add a bit of majesty to the pre-game cultural exchanges of both teams. With both sides extremely pumped up, it was on for all money. But a shaky start for both teams saw the ball turned over a few times and the tension right up. And like usual, Hawaiki Roa did the chasing as the new kids in Taranaki hit first. After some back and forth, Corey Broughton kicked a 40/20 for the yellow and black to setup brilliant field position. And it was all class from there as Kurtis Rowe skipped out and drew in an extra defender, to get Beau White a clear run to score out wide. A missed conversion though, and it was 4-0 to the Taranaki.

But Hawaiki Roa are not defending champions for no reason, and they scored in the ensuing set off the kick off. After some razzle dazzle keeping the ball alive, foundation member Harry Debique found space and gave the ball to the devastating Joseph Pouhila who was too quick for the cover. Crucially he brought the ball all the way underneath the posts and gave the Hawaiki side a 6-4 lead at the halftime break.

After the break, Hawaiki started hard and fast and it looked like they had scored when Jesse Rihari was on the spot chasing a searching kick. But the referee was on the spot and immediately pointed to a goal line restart. And while they were turned away, a beautiful movement on their own side of halfway resulted in a run away try, and again with the conversion succesful, it was 12-4 lead and it looked a long way back for Taranaki here.

With time not their friend, Taranaki went for the kitchen sink, and finally found some joy when Blair Young found the stripe, and a quick conversion made it 12-10. But with the siren going in the background it meant the trophy was once again scooped up by Hawaiki Roa. Zac Speir and Delane Edwards can be proud once again of their accomplishment, while Corey Broughton, who was the primary driver of the Taranaki side, can be super proud of their accomplishment and will be back again for another tilt next time.