Aotea club captain and manager Bryan Te Huki counts last week’s final game as a learning experience.
After a stunning result in the semifinal against Napier Marist Old Boys in Dannevirke on July 11, the win against Havelock North eluded them.
It was a disappointing result for the Dannevirke rugby team but Te Huki was philosophical.
“We were beaten by the better team.”
He said his team did make mistakes during the game but if they’d been able to score a few points in the first half it might have made a difference.
“There’s a lot we learnt from it.”
Another point of difference was that the game was being played at night – after 7pm – when the team had been used to playing in the afternoon.
In the end it was Havelock North that took away the Hepa Paewai Memorial Trophy.
Named for a former Māori All Black and Hawke’s Bay great, both competing clubs had a close connection to the trophy.
Te Huki said Paewai, who died three years ago, had once lived in Dannevirke and played for the Aotea club but later moved with his family to Havelock North.
“He’d have been very proud,” Te Huki said, adding that Paewai would have been “chuffed” for the Havelock team.
Aotea had tried their best and they should be very proud of what they’d achieved, Te Huki said.
He said they deserved full credit.
“They trained hard and turned up to everything required of them.”
Aotea’s semifinal win guaranteed them a place in the premiers next year, a prospect which Te Huki found a bit daunting.
It’s expected that the games, not to mention the opponents in premier games will be tougher to beat, with more experience.
“We’ve got until next season to prepare,” Te Huki said.
He also hoped the club, coming off its success this season, will attract more players and coaches.
The support for the club this season had been great.
“It’s good for our club and Dannevirke,” Te Huki said, especially when the club had been struggling.
The team will get a little bit of time off before training begins again but there’s no doubt they will be working hard to ensure they will be one to watch next year.