Double shield joy for town
FIREHAWKS’ try-scoring star Isaac Howell (right) with his father Shane and the Waikato premier II rugby league shield they helped win, back at Parawera Marae on Saturday night. Isaac (16) is the team’s youngest player and Shane (38) the oldest.
240071AD SHARP SHOOTER Stephen Donald gets a congratulatory hug from his mum after helping Waikato lift the Ranfurly Shield. Pictured among the jubilant Waikato supporters are Courier journalist Cathy Asplin and husband Wayne (above Donald), with mate Barry Fynn (right).
By Colin Thorsen and Grant Johnston
Rugby and league fans in the Courier readership area had a double treat on Saturday - with Waikato winning the Ranfurly Shield and Te Awamutu Sports Firehawks claiming the Waikato Premier II Shield.
While Waikato was widely expected to head off holders North Harbour to uplift the Ranfurly Shield for the first time since 1997, the 52-7 winning margin for the young Mooloos surprised most people. In the thick of the action at Albany Stadium were Te Awamutu Sports’ prop, Nathan White and former flanker, Steven Bates.
White was an integral part of a dominant Waikato tight five that paved the way for outstanding displays by the loose forwards and backs. It was a case of third time lucky as far as the young prop’s parents, Doug and Robyn White, were concerned.
“We are privileged to have a son who has been part of three Shield challenges, with this being the third time lucky - as well as winning the inaugural Air New Zealand Cup last year,” Mrs White says. She says there was a great atmosphere, with Waikato supporters completely overwhelming the North Harbour crowd.
“It was a sea of red, yellow and black and cowbells galore drowning out the ‘Harbourmaster’. The team felt like they were playing in front of a home crowd. It was great to see Nathan pack down against Sam (Biddles, former Sports’ prop) when he came on.”
While White was a driving
force in the engine room, his dad
was doing the same behind the
scenes - managing to get his Go
“We’ll be there to support him this Saturday in his first defence against Canterbury with his daughter Libby (four months) attending her first game. A win would be a great way to celebrate Nathan’s 26th birthday a few days later.”
Down the southern motorway at Huntly, Te Awamutu Sports Firehawks turned around their 34-18 loss to Taniwharau two weeks ago, to defeat that team 28-26 in the Waikato premier II rugby league grand final at Davies Park.
Star of the game was 16-yearold winger Isaac Howell, who repeated his semi-final heroics of scoring a hat-trick of tries. He took out both the fairest and player of the day awards in the grand final. The Te Awamutu College student is one of six rising New Zealand league stars to gain a trial for the Newcastle Knights Academy (U18) team on September 23. Howell, in his first year of league, has scored 11 tries in his last four games since returning to the fray after being sidelined for eight weeks with a broken wrist.
The Newcastle Knights are on the look-out for big, strong, fast backs and Howell was recommended to the NRL franchise by his coach after impressing for Waikato in the National Youth tournament earlier in the season.
Full report on the Firehawks mighty victory over Taniwharau in Thursday’s Courier.