KAHU Tamatea was the toast of a YMP side who won their eighth Lee Brothers Shield premier club final 23-22 over Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates in a thriller at Rugby Park on Saturday.
In one of the best finals seen at the Park, Tamatea made a try-saving tackle on Fijian winger John Stewart in the dying moments to deny Pirates their first championship in their 58-year-history.
Pirates, who will look back on this game and rue the chances they missed, had one more opportunity to win with less than 60 seconds remaining.
Referee Hamish Campbell pinged YMP for offside and awarded a penalty. But at 48 metres from the posts it was outside first five-eighth Dean Williams’ kicking range.
Fullback Clayton Kiwara banged the ball into touch five metres from the YMP goal line, as both sets of vocal fans rose to their feet.
Pirates hooker Ngarimu Simpkins threw in the ball, Willie Waitoa won it and passed back to Simpkins on the charge.
The YMP rallying call of “whanau” went up and Simpkins was hit by a wall of black and white jerseys who were not about to be denied their moment of glory.
The ball was turned over and kicked into touch, and as Campbell signalled fulltime up went the arms of the magical Magpies to the roar of their supporters as the heads and shoulders of the courageous Pirates players dropped.
An emotional YMP coach Dollar Maxwell was initially lost for words but regained his composure to say: “It’s a great way to end the season and to have the shield at our 100 years centenary is awesome.
Maxwell was a member of the YMP championship-winning teams in 1991, 92 and 93 and assistant coach of the winning 2006 team, coached by John Ferris,
This time around it was Maxwell coaching with his good mate Ferris assisting.
Pirates coach Henry Maxwell was gutted.
Pirates assistant coach and centre Rua Tipoki said: “It’s a pity we waited until the second half to play as well as we can.