With 12min remaining and his team trailing the Hornby Panthers 16-4 in the Pat Smith Trophy final, Linwood Keas prop Alex Todd thought his team had no chance of victory.
“I thought we were gone. Absolutely done for,” he said.
Just 15min later, the 29-year-old was celebrating his team’s 20-16 victory and third straight title after he scored the match-winning try with 2min to play.
His late heroics on Sunday helped the Keas became the first team in 37 years to win three straight finals.
He was also awarded the Mel Cooke Memorial Trophy as the best player in the grand-final for the second year in a row.
Todd debuted for the Keas premier team 10 years ago as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.
Keas coach Andrew Auimatagi said Todd deserved credit for his game-winning try.
“For a prop to be pushing up and looking for a pass after a tough 80min like that is nothing short of exceptional,” he said.
The Keas also won the women’s final after a 38-33 win over the Papanui Tigers.
The match was a curtain-raiser to the men’s final at Rugby League Park, on Sunday.
The Celebration Lions won the Gore Cup with a 34-16 win over the Aranui Eagles at Wainoni Park on Saturday.