Waihora claimed the Greg Sparks Memorial Trophy for the first time in nine years after a tough 18-16 win over rivals Lincoln at Tai Tapu Domain.
Waihora coach Joff Mooar described the last 20min of the game as a real “nail-biter,” with the lead changing a number of times.
Trailing 15-16 with five minutes to play Waihora were awarded a penalty, setting up first-five Harry Kirk to slot the game-winning kick.
“It never seems to matter where you are on the table in these games between Waihora and Lincoln, they always go down to the wire,” said Mooar.
Earlier in the game, Canterbury rep Mark Maitland was at his usual best. The fullback scoring a first half try for Waihora to give them the advantage at the time. Mooar also highlighted the play of open side flanker Ryan Koning and centre Richard Mills.
The result puts Waihora at the top of the Ellesmere division one standings. However, with a bye in the final round they could slip as low as third going into the play-offs.
Lincoln’s play-off hopes are over. The loss leaves them five points behind fourth-placed Prebbleton who defeated them a fortnight ago.
In other games Southbridge gained advantage in the race for a home semi-final by defeating Darfield 21-10. The game didn’t produce a fairy tale story for Darfield prop Scott McIlroy, who bought up his 200th game milestone alongside twin brother Blair, who played his 197th game for the division one side.
Division one results:
Southbridge 21, Darfield 10; Waihora 18, Lincoln 16; BDI 43, Rolleston 24; West Melton 29, Hornby 5, Prebbleton (bye).
Division one standings:
Waihora 33pts, 1; Southbridge 30, 2; Darfield 29, 3; Prebbleton 22, 4; Lincoln 17, 5; BDI 14, 6; West Melton 5, 7; Rolleston 5, 8; Hornby 2, 9.
PHOTOS: KAREN CASEY