Harbour finally gets to engrave its name on the shield. And after 26 years of trying to win the premier banner, that felt pretty good.
But there is just one niggly complication. The Hawks have to share their first title with University.
The teams battled to a 30-30 draw in an epic final at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The score was locked 30-30 at fulltime and remained that way after an extra 10 minutes each way.
The next tiebreaker was the most tries scored in the game and once again the teams could not be separated, with four apiece.
What do we do now? Celebrate? Collapse in despair?
Harbour captain Charles Elton certainly was not sure.
He had just been part of thrilling final that ended with Harbour and University locked 30-30 after 100 minutes of rugby.
The Hawks had their chances to claim the win in front of a 3000-strong crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
They led 30-23 with a couple of minutes left during regulation time.
But the favourites worked their way up field and probed for a gap. Eventually, Harbour ran out of defenders and impressive lock Josh Hill ran through a big hole 5m out to score under the posts.
The conversion sent the game into extra time. Harbour had two opportunities to seal victory late in the second extra period.
Logan Allen had his first dropped goal attempt charged down and moments later sliced another attempt to the left.
The final whistle was not met with the usual joy or despair. Everyone seemed a little confused where the shield might end up.
But it will be shared and Harbour Rugby Club president Lance Spence was looking forward to getting it back to Watson Park to show it off to the faithful.
“It means a lot,” he said.
“We’ve been trying to the win a banner for 25-26 years now and there is a lot of good people who have done a lot of work.
“We’ve come so close so often. A draw is not exactly what we wanted but we’ll take it.”
His son Aidan scored two tries in the game, so it was a good day for the Spence family.
The title may have come just in time for Harbour, as well. The club is in merger talks with Zingari-Richmond and Alhambra-Union, so it was potentially the team’s last chance.
The title has been shared before. University and Taieri split it in 1955, and Southern and University went halves in 1984 and 1985.
The finals formats was introduced in 1986 to help avoid shared titles.
Read the full ODT article here