The anecdotes of Gerald Dermody were ringing through Tokanui players’ ears on Friday night. They helped the side win the division one shield named after the club stalwart.
“The team takes a lot of pride in its defence and working hard not to let each other down in the D-line, and it is fitting that it was Dermody that taught a lot of these boys that tackling and defence is all about attitude,” coach Roger Buckingham said.
The club could not be prouder to have its name etched on the shield after beating Pioneer 23-14 in the final, he said.
“With the Gerald Dermody Shield being created two years ago in the name of the big man, the club is extremely proud to get our name on the list second, and in the first opportunity we had.
“I think that shows the respect the club and team has for Gerald.”
The win marked a stunning two seasons for Tokanui which was promoted to division one after being unbeaten in division two last year.
Its success was built on the core values of the club, Buckingham said.
“[The] last two years have been built on players who work hard, stay humble with the results and realise it is club footy and something we do in leisure time to earn a beer.”
The final was scheduled as a home final for Pioneer on Saturday, but it was relocated to Les George Oval, in Invercargill, on Friday night due to Covid-19 Alert Level 2.
Tokanui came out of the blocks firing and was up 17-0 after 29 minutes.
Pioneer scored a converted try before halftime and trailed 17-7 at the break.
Pioneer held on to the ball at the start of the second but struggled to break through a stout Tokanui defence line.
It eventually found a gap and made its way to the line to score a converted try.
Tokanui kicked two penalties in the final seven minutes to win.
The win was built off the back of the groundwork through the season, reaching its potential when required, Buckingham said.
“The team played somewhere near their potential when it mattered the most.
“The first quarter of our round robin games being a big work-on, it was great to get it right for the final, although we did agree [we] can improve more.”
Pioneer coach Blair Korteweg said it was disappointing the final was moved from Newman Park.
“We didn’t adapt well and it was quite late .. we worked hard to get a home final.”
However, he was proud of the heart his side showed to come back into the match.
“Tokanui started well and we were still competitive.
“The forwards battled it out and played well but Tokanui wanted it more.”
“There were huge gains.”
It was a “really good stepping stone for where we want to get to”, he said.