Canterbury completes the double, and treble
Friday, November 5, 2010 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
The victory before 10,500 spectators on a drizzly night gave Canterbury the three-peat of titles and its eight in all, while Waikato’s tally stayed at two, the last in 2006.
Canterbury captain George Whitelock, back on the flank after missing the last month with a knee injury, formed a deadly loose-forward trio with Nasi Manu and Matt Todd, while first five-eighth Colin Slade again showed his class, catching a hopeful kick ahead in the 70th minute to run 50m for the match-clinching try.
Whitelock praised his team for controlling the ball so ably.
Regaining the ball from the kick-off, Canterbury spread the ball to each side before a little kick ahead by Robbie Fruean was not cleared by No. 8 Alex Bradley and Canterbury wing Tu Umaga-Marshall forced just before the dead-ball line, the try being confirmed by the TMO in the third minute. Slade missed the sideline conversion.
Waikato stormed back from the restart thanks to some bumbling by the Canterbury backs, but a brilliant spot tackle by Slade stopped a dangerous backline move 8m out.
Waikato hit back after 11 minutes, the pack dominating a scrum and the forwards driving towards the line with prop Toby Smith burrowing over, the try unconverted by Trent Renata.
Slade missed a 35m penalty goal from a handy position two minutes later and while wing Henry Speight failed to touch down properly an early tackle by Umaga-Marshall denied Ryan Crotty a try.
Slade had a second penalty attempt in the 17th minute from 40m out on the angle and again kicked it poorly, coming up short. But it was third time lucky in the 22nd minute, Slade landing a 32m goal into the wind.
But the lead was short-lived, Renata slotting a 18m penalty goal from in front to level at 8-8. Waikato’s rush defence was again posing problems for Canterbury on attack.
After 36 minutes the TMO was called into play again as Canterbury lock Isaac Ross was driven over after a series of charges to the Waikato line, but the try was denied after the ball could not be seen grounded on the chalk.
After 38 minutes Canterbury scored its second try which needed no referral when Slade used his foot to charge down a clearing kick by halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Crotty was first to the ball, gathering just before the line and crossing in a tackle.
Slade was astray with the wide conversion, but the defending champion led, 13-8, at half-time.
Slade had the first scoring chance in the second half and made no mistake with a 36m penalty goal after 43 minutes. Waikato had a try referred to the TMO which was disallowed, but Waikato botched the 5m scrum and Canterbury toed ahead gaining 95m.
Back came Waikato and after a some controlled play which went to both flanks, the space opened up for wing Speight, who accepted a long pass from replacement halfback Brendon Leonard and dotted down in the corner. Renata missed the conversion but the gap was only three points with 23 minutes remaining.
Leonard made a vital try-saving tackle on Willi Heinz on the hour, but Canterbury, with replacement Stephen Brett kicking to the corners, kept Waikato penned in its half. In the 65th minute Canterbury flanker Matt Todd scored after Leonard had his kick charged down by Nasi Manu, Slade converting from close range to extend the lead to 23-13.
After 70 minutes Slade ran onto a kick ahead by replacement Tim Mikkelson and ran 40m to score, his hand raised in celebration long before he reached the line. For good measure he kicked the conversion and Canterbury was out to a 30-13 lead.
Waikato made a raft of substitutes as the clock ran down, but Canterbury scented victory and dictated terms. Brett knocked over a 38m penalty goal to advance the lead to 20 points after 77 minutes and Canterbury protected the 33-13 lead to the end.
Canterbury 33 (Tu Umaga-Marshall, Ryan Crotty, Matt Todd, Colin Slade tries; Slade 2 con, 2 pen; Stephen Brett pen) Waikato 13 (Toby Smith, Henry Speight tries; Trent Renata pen). HT: 13-8
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