Rugby

Taranaki crowned ITM champs

2014-10-25 11:27
Rhys Marshall (Getty Images)

Wellington - Taranaki were crowned New Zealand rugby champions on Saturday when they beat Tasman 36-32 in the premiership final at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

It was the first time since rugby turned professional in 1995 that the final involved two sides which do not host one of New Zealand's five Super rugby franchises.

The final capped a fairytale year for both sides, with Taranaki fortunate to avoid relegation last year when they finished second from bottom while Tasman, New Zealand's youngest union, were in the premiership for the first time.

Taranaki led 16-10 at half-time and raced to a 33-13 lead before Tasman fought back in the closing quarter.

Although Tasman outscored Taranaki four tries to three, Cody Rei made the difference for the new champions with 21 points off the boot from five penalties and three conversions.

New Zealand Maori captain Charlie Ngatai scored two tries for Taranaki with Rhys Marshall adding the third.

Tasman's points came from tries to Kieron Fonotia, Billy Guyton (two) and Pete Samu while Marty Banks kicked three conversions and two penalties.

Taranaki, who finished at the head of the table in the regular season, beat Auckland in the semi-finals while Tasman knocked out defending champions Canterbury.

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