Wairere men's, Bulletz women's touch champions

By Taroi Black

A repeat from last year’s men’s final as Wairere win their third title at the Whakatāne Touch Tournament against arch-rivals Playin Up. While Bulletz nail-biting win against Playin Up by one point was another highlight in the women’s final.

Wairere captain Mita Graham says, “I want to thank Playin Up, this was our third clash against them at this level.”

Ruamai Erueti and Sonny Te Hira came out of the blocks together with two opening tries.

Playin Up had to respond with another two tries by Takoha Ropati and Tiaan McIntyre to keep the defending champions at bay.

With eight minutes to go in the first-half Wairere continued to push the envelope with Tiwi Davies and Ash Robertson Bartlett adding two more points to the scoreboard.

The Auckland side tried to stay in the game with a crucial point by Te Tuhi Tuuta before halftime.

Playin Up captain Takoha Ropati says, “The best team on the day won based on their processes. Wairere exemplify that each year.”

Graham added more punch in the opening minutes of the second half, assisting Shanan Tomuri to a try and himself one to secure the win.

Two minutes before the final whistle Hena Tuuta score the last try in the match but it was too little too late.

Final score 6 to 4.    

“We're so happy, the game of touch has risen to another level. We know by next year it will be tough. So, we'll remain humble with the win,” Graham said.

In the women's final, Bulletz bolted their way to an 8th title victory at the biggest club championships for touch rugby in the world.

However, Playin Up scored the opening try but it was short lived as Kataraina Enosa-Taifau evened out the points.

Playin Up captain Letoia Tainui-Mcintyre says, “They had some heart at the back end of that game and full credit to them we just couldn't push through.”

There were some positives for Playin Up, Mania Selwyn would score their second and Sammi Stanton with their third.

Bulletz captain Jean Waaka secured another try as Olivia Chapman did before half-time.

The second-half was put down to fitness and perseverance as Chapman scored the only try to secure a one-point win yet again for Bulletz 4 to 3.   

“To come out here and put it into the processes was a little bit hard and it wasn't expected as it was it was good to come out at the top end,” Waaka said.