It was an epic conclusion to a tremendous week of rugby at Taupo’s Owen Delany Park and Bay of Plenty’s victory means that province is the fifth different winner of the Premiership division in five years.
Canterbury led 13-8 at the break but scored just three tries to five in the final analysis, with Fergus Burke adding 15 points with the boot. But the red and blacks had drawn level at 30-all after a late Conor McManus try until Suemai’s heroics.
Bay of Plenty, top qualifier from the Chiefs region coming into the tournament, was in imperious form throughout and capped it with the 35-30 result.
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Fullback Kaleb Trask, called up from the Steamers Mitre 10 Cup campaign, scored two tries and kicked four goals, which was sufficient for him to break the loose forward stronghold on the DJ Graham Award as tournament MVP. Trask was also the top scorer in the tournament with 54 points, which included four tries.
The results signals that the Bay of Plenty union is doing a lot right with its academy system and talent identification.
Waikato, 2016 Premiership champion, won the Championship final and the Sir Michael Jones Trophy with a clearcut 30-5 victory over first-time finalist Otago. Led by a brace to left wing Siave Seti, who finished equal top tryscorer with five, Waikato actually built its dominance on its staunch defence.
In the other playoffs, Auckland A made a stirring comeback to secure fifth position with a 35-31 win over Tasman, while Hawke’s Bay took seventh, downing Taranaki 40-13.
With a clinical kicking game, Jackson Garden-Bachop scoops up three Duane Monkley Medal points ??#COUvWEL pic.twitter.com/XeP8N04vqr— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 15, 2018