Highlanders Greg Pleasant-Tate and Tevita Nabura played a major role in Zingari-Richmond’s Challenge Shield win against holder Harbour at Watson Park.
Hooker Pleasant-Tate played a key role in helping the forward pack overcome the size and strength of the Harbour pack, while Nabura’s presence in midfield gave the backs the confidence to expose lapses in the Harbour backline.
Replaced by Karl Still after 60min, Pleasant-Tate’s inspiration to the pack remained firmly entrenched in what was a superb display from the pack.
Lock Elli Tonga, whose nine clean lineout takes, high work rate and ability to break the first tackle around the fringes, set a platform for first five-eighth and captain Thomas Johnson to unleash the line-breaking skills of Nabura and Keenan Masina.
After the two sides exchanged penalty goals in the opening minutes of play, it was Johnson who set the game alight when he intercepted a pass close to his own line. He sprinted 90m up field and passed infield to Nabura, who scored between the posts.
There was another crucial intercept in the final minute. Harbour trailed 15-18 and was hammering away at the line when Nabura came up with the ball.
He ran away to score and seal the victory. The Challenge Shield will take residence at Montecillo for the first time since 2009.