A last-minute try to Roydon Gillett lifted the Mt Albert Lions to their first Sportsafe ARL Nines title on Saturday, beating the Pt Chevalier Pirates 20-14 in Auckland’s flagship pre-season tournament.
With a near full-strength side at their disposal, the Lions cruised through pool play at Stanmore Bay on Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast, but had to wait until the closing seconds of the decider to seal the deal against the Pirates, after scores had been locked at 14-14.
Earlier in the final the Lions had made a dream start after forcing an opposition handling error on the first play of the game, which hooker Isaac Misky turned into a four-pointer, before a looping ball from Francis Leger saw Puia’i Patu-Vaega’au hit back for Pt Chevalier.
Mark Graham latched onto a pinpoint Reece Joyce kick to give Mt Albert the advantage late in the first, before the back-and-forth nature of the clash continued when the two sides traded tries through the second half via Alifeleti Ngahe and Peter Oliveti.
Pt Chevalier playmaker Hawaiki Annandale tied things up with a late try, and the game appeared destined for golden point, before Gillett – who was a contestant in the inaugural season of the NRL Rookie TV show – sealed the match with a charging effort under the posts to edge past the 2017 Nines champions and claim the first official silverware of the new season.
Meanwhile in the second-tier Plate final, the Howick Hornets overcame Premiership newcomers the Franklin Storm, 24-20 in the final.
Blue Pool – Group Games
Game 1 | Otahuhu Leopards 4 Hibiscus Coast Raiders 6
Game 2 | Glenora Bears 16 Howick Hornets 14
Game 3 | East Coast Bays 8 Papakura Sea Eagles 16
Game 4 | Howick Hornets 4 Otahuhu Leopards 6
Game 5 | Glenora Bears 24 Papakura Sea Eagles 10
Game 6 | Hibiscus Coast Raiders 10 East Coast Bays Barracudas 4
Game 7 | Otahuhu Leopards 18 Glenora Bears 10
Game 8 | Howick Hornets 12 East Coast Bays Barracudas 24
Game 9 | Papakura Sea Eagles 6 Hibiscus Coast Raiders 28
Game 10 | Otahuhu Leopards 28 East Coast Bays Barracudas 6
Game 11 | Papakura Sea Eagles 8 Howick Hornets 18
Game 12 | Hibiscus Coast Raiders 12 Glenora Bears 18
Game 13 | Otahuhu Leopards 30 Papakura Sea Eagles 0 (Otahuhu win by default)
Game 14 | East Coast Bays Barracudas 10 Glenora Bears 10
Game 15 | Hibiscus Coast Raiders 4 Howick Hornets 14
White Pool – Group Games
Game 1 | Mt Albert Lions 24 Pt Chevalier Pirates 10
Game 2 | Te Atatu Roosters 0 Mangere East Hawks 40
Game 3 | Waitemata Seagulls 14 Franklin Storm 10
Game 4 | Te Atatu Roosters 0 Mt Albert Lions 34
Game 5 | Mangere East Hawks 10 Franklin Storm 12
Game 6 | Pt Chevalier Pirates 20 Waitemata Seagulls 14
Game 7 | Mt Albert Lions 24 Mangere East Hawks 6
Game 8 | Te Atatu Roosters 10 Waitemata Seagulls 8
Game 9 | Franklin Storm 4 Pt Chevalier 26
Game 10 | Mt Albert Lions 22 Waitemata Seagulls 4
Game 11 | Franklin Storm 20 Te Atatu Roosters 10
Game 12 | Pt Chevalier Pirates 22 Mangere East Hawks 6
Game 13 | Mt Albert Lions 30 Franklin Storm 8
Game 14 | Waitemata Seagulls 16 Mangere East Hawks 10
Game 15 | Te Atatu Roosters 0 Pt Chevalier Pirates 30 (Pt Chevalier win by default)
Plate Semi Finals Finals
Game 16 | Waitemata Seagulls 12 Howick Hornets 20
Game 17 | Hibiscus Coast Raiders 0 Franklin Storm 30 (Franklin Storm win by default)
Championship Semi Finals
Game 18 | Mt Albert Lions 6 Glenora Bears 4
Game 19 | Otahuhu Leopards 14 Pt Chevalier 26
Plate Final | Howick Hornets 24 Franklin Storm 20
Championship Final | Mt Albert Lions 20 Pt Chevalier Pirates 14