Canterbury won their fourth consecutive domestic title on Saturday, beating Waikato 12-3 in a try-less ITM Cup Final in Hamilton.
Canterbury won their fourth consecutive New Zealand domestic championship title on Saturday, beating Waikato 12-3 in a try-less ITM Cup Final in Hamilton.
It wasn't the result the cowbell-ringing fans at Waikato Stadium had hoped for as Canterbury replacement fly-half Tom Taylor's four penalties proved enough for victory in a hard-fought encounter.
Despite what the scoreline might suggest, both sides had plenty of positive intentions but two very solid defensive displays ensured the scorers had little work to do. It was pretty, but it didn't lack for intensity as tempers flared a few times.
The defending champions led 9-3 at half-time.
Waikato's Stephen Donald had landed the first points of the game with a seventh minute penalty goal.
Taylor came on the field 21 minutes into the final after starting fly-half Tyler Bleyndaal, who had missed one relatively easy chance at goal, left the field with an injury.
The Mooloos had their chances but were unable to hang onto the ball for long enough to get anything going in that second half with Taylor landing the final nail in the hosts coffin in the dying minutes.
The hosts came into the rematch of last year's final with plenty of confidence after disposing of their counterparts 27-13 during the league stages.
But the visitors final's experience proved invaluable, as they kept their cool in front a endless, though sometimes frenetic, Waikato attacks.
Waikato played the majority of the final quarter in the opposition half but their attack was letdown by fundamental handling errors and brilliant defence by the visitors.
Man of the match: Wyatt Crockett deserves a mention for his power in the scrums and opposing flankers Matt Todd and Marty Holah were all over the park. But we'll go for George Whitelock, who was a constant figure in what turned into a true arm wrestle.
Pens: Taylor 3
Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Sam Christie, 11 Tim Mikkelson, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Nathan White, 2 Marcel Cummings-Toone, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vance Elliott, 17 Ben May, 18 Matt Vant Leven, 19 Zak Hohneck, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 22 Declan O'Donnell, 23 Ted Tauroa.
Canterbury: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Ash Parker, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Paul Ngauamo, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Katene, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Takerei Norton, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Johnny McNicholl, 23 Andrew Olorenshaw.
Referee: Garratt Williamson
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri
TMO: Chris Morgan