Tamaki Lightning Colts win final

The Tamaki Lightning Colts (16-19 years) have won the Colts Kiwibowl. Photo supplied

The Tamaki Lightning Colts have beaten the Hamilton Hawks to win the 2017/2018 Colts Kiwibowl!

The Tamaki Lightning Colts (16-19 years) capped off the perfect finish to their season, defeating the only two teams they had lost to during regular season play, in the play-offs en-route to a Colts Kiwibowl Championship.

After beating the Western Wolves 16-0 in the semi-final, the colts took on the previously undefeated Hamilton Hawks in the finals on January 20 at Mountfort Park in Manurewa.

The first half finished with no points on the board for either team, with both teams moving the ball but being unable to sustain and complete drives. The Hawks threatened a few times with their strong passing game but were unable to actually get into the end zone.

Finally in the third quarter the Hawks quarterback dropped a pinpoint pass in the corner of the end zone to take the lead 6-0. Lightning defensive player Carlos Matamua instantly erased this deficit by returning the ensuing kick-off 85 yards to put the Lightning on the board and tie the game at 6-6. Both defences held strong for the remainder of the time and the game finished in a 6-all draw.

Overtime saw the Lightning take first offensive possession. Having not been able to break the end zone thus far in the game, the offense came out with a newfound hunger behind a resurgent offensive line and running back Lino Leiataua. Carter Hackett topped off the drive by ploughing in for the touchdown on the goal line, whilst Lino tacked on the two-point conversion for the Lightning giving them a 14-6 lead. The Hawks were then stopped less than a yard short on their ensuing drive by the Lightning defence led by Hackett, Javed Mariner and Josh Shanahan resulting in the Tamaki Lightning Colts claiming the American Football Auckland (AFA) championship.

Offensive co-ordinator Shiraz Soysa said it was great seeing the offense come back to score on that first overtime drive. “After being inconsistent and committing too many penalties earlier in the game, the guys really pulled through when it counted to help win this game.”