Go the Steamers!
Sports correspondent & historian
The Baywide rugby season came to a conclusion last Saturday with the last three of the six Bay of Plenty Rugby Union club titles decided.
Arataki took out the Premier Two crown after beating Paroa in an absolute thriller. The Eastern Bay representatives wore a slight favourites tag after defeating their Western Bay of Plenty opponents by a solitary point in the last game of the regular season
For the second time in two weeks the match went right down to the referee's final whistle before Arataki took out the Baywide title 16-15.
In the final season wash-up the Bay of Plenty club rugby titles were spread through the three Bay of Plenty regions. Mount Maunganui won the Premier One championship with fellow Western Bay sides Arataki and Te Puke Sports annexing the second echelon and Development One titles. Rotorua teams Waikite and Murupara also tasted Baywide success, with Te Teko winning back-to-back Division One titles in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
One feat that has flown under the radar is a Mount Maunganui sportsman winning both Baywide premier cricket and rugby titles in the past 12 months.
In past decades, many sportsmen juggled top level cricket and rugby where there were stand-alone cricket and rugby seasons. Today pre-season rugby training starts in earnest in early January, which makes it difficult for players to compete in both sports.
However Matt Golding, who keeps wickets for the Mount Maunganui premiers and runs the backline of the Mount Sports premier rugby side at first-five, has won both Baywide cricket and rugby silverware in the past year.
The Baywide Cup and the icing on the cake of the Bay of the Plenty Cricket Champion of Champions trophy were taken out by the Mount premier side in the 2016/17 season. Standing behind the stumps, Golding was in outstanding form with the gloves, taking 20 catches and effecting 13 stumpings during the Baywide season.
Matt was also an extremely important component in the Mount Maunganui rugby side's championship victory. Whether slicing through opposition backlines, nailing kicks at goal or snap-shooting drop goals, the sporting all-rounder left an indelible impression on his team mates.
Local rugby attention now turns to the Mitre 10 Cup where the Steamers will seek to impress their myriad of blue and gold fans.
The start of individual sporting seasons brings plenty of expectations of success (think of the New Zealand Warriors each year). However, as the Mitre 10 Cup season evolves there will be a range of emotions expressed by the Steamers fans, from the joy and happiness of success, to the gloom and despair of defeat.
Being a genuine Steamers supporter means taking the good with the bad and getting behind ‘our' team through thick and thin.
Go the Steamers!