Sabah had looked like they were set to defend their title until the last few seconds in a close contest played in heavy rain at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Stadium yesterday.
Five-time winners Sabah were leading 24-21 with the clock ticking down when Vunimoku managed to break through and make the try to bring Terengganu from the brink of defeat to a hard fought 26-24 win.
Vunimoku was named the man of the match in the final and received RM500.
Terengganu, who won the title after their third final appearance, took home RM15,000 while Sabah received RM10,000.
Terengganu, powered by nine national players and four Fijians, made four tries and three conversions while Sabah managed two tries, one conversion and four penalties.
Fijian Josaia Tokarua, Amirul Mukminin Amizan, captain Mohd Syahir Asraf Rosli and Vunimoku made the tries for Terengganu while Amirul Mukminin made all the conversions.
Fijian Sakiusa Terence Gavidi and local player Wilmer Wilfreddoline made the tries for Sabah while Mohd Fairuz Abdul Rahman converted all three penalties.
Terengganu coach Izaimi Zainuddin said the heavy rain was a good omen for his team.
“We took a 14-13 lead in the first-half but we made some errors in defence to give away penalties. But we came back to win the match.
“We were trailing 24-21 with just a few seconds left to play.
“My heart was beating fast as I wanted my players to turn the tables on the favourites who have two New Zealand coaches (Bradley Moni Mika and Edwin Cocker),” said Izaimi.
“My players showed tremendous fighting spirit. It is a good boost for rugby in our state and it also feels really good to win our second national title.
“We also won the National Sevens title in Ipoh this year. We will focus on our grassroots development to produce more quality players,” said Izaimi.
Sabah coach Mika said it was unfortunate that they lost in the dying seconds.
“My boys gave their best on the wet and soggy pitch but it was just not our day.
“We will return home to train harder for the tournament next year,” said Mika, who is also the Malaysian national team coach.
Johor beat Kelantan 31-11 to finish third. They pocketed RM7,000 while Kelantan took home RM5,000.
The prizes were given away by Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Ilisha Ameera, the Yang diPertuan Agong’s daughter.
Did you find this article insightful?