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Saracens are the new champions after beating Ashley 22-15 in the Grand Final.
Kaiapoi U14½ players are jubilant as Kees Tiweka tumbles across the line to give Kaiapoi a lead that proved shortlived
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Ross Dixon
North Canterbury
 , Rugby Administrator-Secretary

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Ross Dixon's contact details are as follows:
Address: 18 Green Street, Rangiora, 7400
Phone: 0275 555361 or 03 310 7870
Email: ross.dixon@xtra.co.nz

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SARACENS MAKE HISTORY
By Peter Williams
The changing of the guard in North Canterbury rugby progressed another step on Saturday. For the second season in a row a Club which had never before won the Senior Championship in North Canterbury claimed the honours.
Last season’s winners of the Luisetti Seeds North Canterbury Division 1 Championship, Ashley, looked to be heading for a second successive title when they led Saracens 15-14 with just 10 minutes remaining but it was Saracens who found the extra reservoir of resolve. At the 71st minute mark, Dion Jones slotted a penalty goal from well out to reclaim the lead for Saracens when inspirational Ashley flanker, Matt King was penalised for slowing down the ball after a tackle. He was also yellow carded for this offence and suddenly Saracens’ spirit spiralled upwards as they sensed that a coveted victory was within their grasp.
They swept back onto attack and when Ashley again infringed just a few metres out from their own goal-line experienced replacement half-back, Tevita Vea, had the audacity to take a quick tap which caught the Ashley defenders napping. Although Jones’ conversion attempt missed Saracens held on for a 22-15 victory.
Earlier in the match Saracens had the best of the early exchanges and was certainly the more enterprising team. After 8 minutes, fullback Josh Harrison hit the line at pace after Saracens had secured turnover ball. He brushed aside a couple of Ashley defenders to score handy to the posts and 10 minutes impressive centre, Nathan Reid, repeated the dose. With Jones converting both tries Saracens had shot out to a 14-0 lead.
Ashley’s response was immediate, though. No 8 Andrew Dunbar crashed over following a forward drive. In the second quarter, Ashley’s forwards with King, Andrew Olorenshaw and Matt Kippenberger particularly prominent started to gain an ascendancy and first five Lance Taylor guided them around the field judiciously. This dominance was rewarded 5 minutes before the break when left-winger, Dan Cook set off on an angled run and linked up with captain, Jamie Young, who scored beneath the posts. Taylor’s conversion closed the gap to just two points at the break.
After the resumption, Ashley continued to have the upper hand in most exchanges and Taylor grabbed the lead for Ashley with a well-taken field-goal.
Ashley seemed to have the situation under control throughout the third quarter but they were unable to add any further points. It was Saracens who got the greater value from the second-half replacements and when the pressure really went on in the last fifteen minutes it was the boys in the red and blue quartered jerseys who responded best.
Josh Harrison was always a threat whenever he got the ball and was a deserved winner of the Waimak Real Estate player of the day award and captain, Josh Maynard and Willie Kerr were the best of a hard-working forward pack.
FROM THE SIDELINES:
What seemed to be the largest crowd for many years surrounded the Kaiapoi Oval on Saturday for the Division 1 Final with nearly as many watching the Metro Colts Final between Glenmark and Christchurch Boys’ High School 2nd XV on an adjacent field. There had been similarly strong support for all the lower grade Finals. There would have been anxious times at Kaiapoi when the day dawned with a light dusting of snow on the ground but it had cleared by the time the first match began. The Kaiapoi Club are to be complimented on presenting the grounds in such outstanding condition. The fact that such a large crowd was in attendance, despite the extremely cold weather, shows that rugby is still very much alive and well in North Canterbury
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It was appropriate that Vince Luisetti, a director of the competition’s sponsors, Luisetti Seeds, was on hand to present the Hunnibel Memorial Trophy to Josh Maynard. This trophy was initially donated to the Sub Union, by the family of Alf Hunnibel who was Vince Luisetti’s great-grandfather. Since Luisetti Seeds took up the sponsorship of this competition, Vince, who has coached Saracens junior teams in the past,  has always said that he looked forward to the day when he could present the Trophy to the Saracens captain.
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One minor disappointment for Saracens on Saturday, though, was that one of their team managers, Pat Dooley, was confined to his sick-bed and unable to attend. Pat is a genuine stalwart of both the former Rangiora Club and now Saracens, having unwaveringly supported the Club through good times and bad, and no-one would have taken greater pleasure from their win than him. No doubt his absence would have been used as a motivational factor.
LOWER GRADE RUGBY FINALS
Without exception, all of the lower grade Finals were very keenly contested, with some extremely close finishes in many of the grades./
Division 2:  Oxford 28 (Richard Taylor, Bernard Doyle, Jared Quirke, Les Cunningham tries, Chris Ford 2 pen, 1 con)  beat Woodend 20 (Chris Ward, Andrew Procter, Sam McDonald tries, Will Clifford 2 pen, 1 conv)
For three-quarters of this match, Woodend had the upper hand and it was only in the last quarter that Oxford assumed control. Woodend showed a greater willingness to move the ball through their backs but in the end the greater experience in the Oxford team, and particularly in their forwards, won the day.
Division 2 Reserve: Saracens 20 ( Luke Bignold, Craig Pethig, John Tavendale tries. Luke Garrard 1 pen 1 conv.) beat Amberley 13 (Ryan Demmocks try, Aaron Eddy (2 pen 1 conv)
This was another closely fought match with Amberley always keeping within striking distance of the more favoured Saracens side.
Metro Colts : Glenmark 12 (Henry Hooker, Danny Brooker, tries, Jeff Bigwood 1 conv) beat CBHS 2nd XV 11 (Ryan Frampton try, Brad Wang 2pen)
This match was a real nail-biter. Glenmark scored early in the match and led all the way but in the final quarter CBHS launched repeated attacks on the Glenmark line and were finally rewarded in injury time with a try midway between the posts and the corner flag. The crowd were hushed as Brad Wang who had earlier kicked two very good goals lined up the conversion attempt which would have given CBHS the win but kick was wide and Glenmark had held on by the skin of their teeth and retained their unbeaten recrd for the season.
Under 18: Kaiapoi 32 (Dante Love (2), Wiremu Herewini, Callum Cooksley, Paris Kara, Logan Allison, tries Josh Merrin 1 conv) beat Hurunui 19 (Baven Brown, Liam Brown, Tapiha Allen tries, Tawhiri Cruickshank 2 conv)
Hurunui put in a sterling effort in this match with Tapiha Allen and Jono Nikolaison leading the way in the forwards and it was not until the final quarter that Kaiapoi with their more polished backline eventually pulled away to put the seal on an excellent season, having earlier also won the Combined Competition.
Under 16: Oxford 24 (Jamie Galway, Elijah Coulston, Clay Thomson, Jesse Bowring tries, Angus Mitchell 2 conv) beat Saracens 5 (Louie McLeod try)
After a number of seasons of trying this group of players, and coaches Anton Bowring and Rex Mitchell, have finally won a Championship. They thoroughly deserved their win as they outscored Saracens by 4 tries to 1. Captain Jack Glassen led by example and was particularly strong at line-out time.
Under 14½:  Ashley Blue 25 (Nick Stewart 2 tries, Jack Marshall 1 try, 2 pen, 1 conv) beat Kaiapoi 24 (James Fowler, Jessaiah Smith, Cody Broekhuizen, Kees Tiweka tries, Riley Adamson 2 conv)
This was another extremely close match between 2 very good sides, with the lead changing constantly. The Kaiapoi players were elated when Kees Tiweka scored to put Kaiapoi in front late in the game but their celebrations were premature as Ashley Blue hit back a few minutes later with what proved to be the winning try. This performance is a real credit to the Ashley Club as their Green team also performed with distinction in this grade.
Under 13: Amberley 26 (Angus Anderson (2) Jayden Boocock, Hamish Thompson tries), Jake Harvey-Heyward 3 conv) beat Ohoka 24 (Gus Kelliher, Connor Newton, Taylor Willis, Hugh Montgomery tries, Willis 2 conv).
Amberley’s unbeaten record this season was under real threat. Ohoka were leading 24-19  with only minutes remaining when Amberley scored about 7 metres in from the corner to level the scores. Jake Harvey-Heyward responded magnificently to a real pressure situation with an excellent kick to win the match for Amberley.
Under 11½: Kaiapoi 34 (Carlos Lancaster-Bartlett (2) Jordan Soli (2) , Kaleb Wyber-Moore, Fletcher Johnson, tries, Soli 2 conv) beat Ohoka Black 29 (Anton Marshall(2) James Leen (2) Ashton Haigh 1 try, 2 conv)
Both of these sides turned on an excellent performance and set the tone for the day. In the end there was only one try difference between the two teams.
Saracens captain, Josh Maynard receives the Hunnibell Memorial Cup from sponsor's rep, Vince Luisetti.
Cousins Scott Barber (Ashley) and Nathan Goodwin (Saracens reminisce post-match Bragging rights to Nathan
Player of the Day, Josh Harrison, bursts through the Ashley defence to score the opening try in the Grand Final
A large crowd watching the Saracens v Ashley Grand Final at Kaiapoi
Referee Kerry Fitzgerald signals a try to Oxford’s Richard Taylor against Woodend in Div 2.
Paris Kara scores for Kaiapoi U 18 in the tackle of Hurunui’s Ricki Pugh. Josh Merrin is in support
Oxford’s Under 16 captain, Jack Glassen, towers above his Saracens opponents in a lineou
Oxford's Shannon Croy on the charge against Saracens
Kaiapoi U18 celebrate Combined Grand Final Victory
Kaiapoi’s dynamic prop, Luca Tootoo, sets off on another of his many rampaging runs against Rolleston.
Birthday boy Fraser Lintott scores for Ashley-Amberley U16 v Methven
Kaiapoi U11.5 in post match huddle as coaches Kevin Smith and Nigel Greengrass approach
Kaiapoi's Bryn Graham is supported by Kaleb Wyber-Moorein the U11½ match v Amberley. The Amberley defender is Andre Moko
Matt King secures lineout possession for Ashley against Darfield
Del Rio Mackintosh, Ashley Blue U14½ about to score after charging down an Oxford clearing kick
Sunia Kubu on his way to a typical intercept try v Southbridge