Rotorua Boys’ First XV have finished third in this year’s Super 8 rugby competition to just miss out on a place in the final.
Rotorua ended with five wins and two losses from their seven games for a total of 26 points, three behind second-placed Hastings Boys’ and four behind round robin winners Hamilton Boys’.
Rotorua will rue dropping matches to Hastings 31-29 and particularly last weekend’s 29-24 defeat to Palmerston North Boys’ who finished in fourth place out of eight teams.
Rotorua ended up with a massive 53 points for-and-against differential advantage over Hastings and defeated Hamilton but unfortunately lost one more game than both finalists.
Rotorua completed the Super 8 season with a one-sided 47-3 win over New Plymouth Boys’ in the final round seven match played at home on Saturday.
Rotorua led 19-3 at halftime after tries to halfback Manu Paea, winger Manu Akauola and second-five Carlos Karaitana.
In the second spell, Rotorua added four more tries to captain and hooker Bernie Hati, Paea in for his second, No. 8 Tukimihia Simpkins and replacement forward Nikki Jacobs with first-five Tome Poona adding the extras from the kicking tee.
Rotorua’s full Super 8 results were wins over Tauranga 29-13, Gisborne 57-5, Hamilton 18-13, Napier 47-7 and New Plymouth 47-3 with losses to Hastings 39-21 and Palmerston North 29-24.
Bay of Plenty rivals Tauranga Boys’ nearly did Rotorua the biggest favour last weekend when they looked set to upset Hastings playing away in the Hawke’s Bay until the home side scored the match winner three minutes into injury time.
Rotorua and Tauranga will meet again on August 17 in the final of the Bay of Plenty competition at Rotorua Boys’ ground.
Champions in 1998 and 2001, Rotorua have been perennial bridesmaids in recent years and will have to wait another year for a chance to win their third Super 8 title.
It took Hamilton nine seasons to claim their first Super 8 championship in 2006 but they have been almost unbeatable ever since, winning 11 of the last 13 championships contested.
Hastings won the title in 2016 and shared it with Hamilton in 2017 but undoubtedly Hamilton will go into this weekend’s final as firm favourites.
In the Super 8 Second XV competition Rotorua finished a good season with five wins from seven games to take third place.
On Saturday they defeated New Plymouth 29-8 with other wins this year over Gisborne 76-14, Napier 17-12, Palmerston North 31-21 and Tauranga 29-10.
Rotorua’s two defeats were against the top two schools in Hamilton 34-12 and Hastings 30-17.