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Championship success for BOP team

Tauranga Old Blues have won the WaiBOP Championship. File Image. Cameron Avery.

Tauranga Old Blues have secured Bay of Plenty success in this year’s WaiBOP football season by securing the Championship title over the weekend.

Phillip Ranger’s side went into Saturday’s clash with Te Puke United at Litt Park knowing a draw or a win would be enough to hold off the challenge of second-placed Cambridge.

The Old Blues secured the title with a 1-1 draw against their hosts, with Cambridge drawing 1-1 at home against Taupo Reserves to ensure second spot ahead of Otumoetai’s Championship side.

It was a perfect day for football in Te Puke with a scorching spring day to sign off the campaign but Te Puke’s sunny disposition was swiftly eradicated when denied an early penalty after Jindrich ‘Henry’ Jahn was bundled down inside the box.

Old Blues soon settled into the game and on the half hour mark, Richard Miraballes Franca hit a low driving free-kick under the wall and past a sprawling Benjamin Day in the Te Puke goal to get the party started for the smattering of visiting fans.

But Te Puke rallied and Cole Cameron’s speculative long-range shot from just outside the centre circle took a wicked bounce to deceive Hex Hernandez in the Old Blues goal.

With the scores level Old Blues emerged determined to secure the title in the second-half, despite Te Puke’s effort to ruin the party.

The visitors however were the stronger team in the second 45 and had several chances to secure the title. There was some confusion late on as to whether the result was enough, with the Old Blues goalkeeper even hinting at going up for a corner, but the result earns Old Blues a deserved Championship title.

In the WaiBOP Premiership it is an all-Waikato affair with the title race going into the final weekend.

Ngaruawahia United defeated Otorohanga 2-0 at the weekend thanks to goals from Jonathan Konings and Federico Marquez to ensure they remain top of the table from second-placed rivals Waikato Unicol.

Goals from Jordi Ditfort, Reuben Henderson and Riley Rigden secured a 3-0 home win for Unicol against last year’s champions Pāpāmoa to keep them one point behind The Green Machine with a game in hand.

If Unicol beat West Hamilton under the floodlights on Wednesday they will be two points ahead of Ngaruawahia, setting up a dramatic final day title decider at Centennial Park on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in the W-League, the already crowned champions Tauranga City ended their successful league campaign in style, defeating Whakatane Town 5-2. Kerri-Ann Jones’ brace ensures she wins the Golden Boot for the season with 18 goals.

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