Reigning champions the Akarana Falcons retained their title with an impressive 28-10 win over the previously undefeated Canterbury Bulls in the NZRL national premiership final at Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub in Christchurch on Saturday.
From the moment the whistle blew, there was little between the two teams until clever play set up Akarana captain Francis Leger's opening try in the 18th minute.
The Bulls soon struck back off a nice play from the outside backs.
Jope Tagicakiau popped a magnificent offload to teammate Regan Stanton who scored a try in the corner.
Stanton backed up with another four-pointer, showing Bulls' left edge was a real threat to the Akarana defence.
Akarana hooker Josiah Afu scored before half time with the conversion giving his side the halftime lead.
Akarana’s Nalu Tuigamala was the first to score in the second half to extend his side's lead although Leger missed the conversion.
The match was still within reach for the Bulls at 16-10 with 20 minutes remaining but Akarana denied the hosts the chance to take the lead for the rest of the match by creating a second try for Afu and one for Solomon Vasuvulagi.
With only 10 minutes to go Canterbury set up for a last-ditch attempt to attack the line. Akarana's defence was tested but couldn't be breached.
In the national championship final, the Wellington Orcas beat the Otago Whalers 38-28.