Southland reclaim Ranfurly Shield

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Saturday, July 23, 2011    Getty Images

Trailing 9-16 at half-time, Southland dominated the second half, giving Canterbury just a few scraps in this ITM Cup premiership game. First five-eighths James Wilson broke the 19-19 deadlock with four minutes to play and Canterbury turned over the ball almost from the kick-off and the industrious Southland forwards ensured the ball did not leave their possession until the final whistle.

It was a deserved win for the Southlanders who outmuscled the Canterbury pack in the second half and made the home team make four times the tackles the challenger did. It was a turn about in form after Southland had lost its opening two games and Canterbury had picked up maximum points against Auckland.

"You really grunted it out and we couldn't get our hands on the ball and that was the winning of the game for Southland," Canterbury captain George Whitelock said.

Robbie Robinson had the first chance to open the scoring with an angled penalty after a slick midfield break by Kendrick Lynn, but his 30m attempt in the third minute drifted wide. Three minutes later James Wilson he had another chance when Canterbury was penalised at a scrum, but his 42m kick went wide.

Canterbury's response was instant, fullback Sean Maitland making the initial thrust for left wing Patrick Osborne to speed around Robinson to score in the corner, Tom Taylor missing the conversion after eight minutes.

Wilson got Southland on the board with a 37m penalty after 10min. Southland conceded its first penalty after 15 minutes and Taylor had an easy kick from 20m to extend the lead to 8-3 and Wilson replied with his second penalty after 18 minutes.

A minute later, though Canterbury had its second try, a brilliant try to Maitland after Willi Heinz and Taylor worked some magic in midfield and Maitland stepped back inside the last two defenders. Taylor missed from wide out.

Wing Tim Cornforth led a stirring Southland break out after 26 minutes, but a loose pass ended a promising 60m counter-attack. Taylor slotted a 49m penalty goal after 28 minutes to give Canterbury a 16-6 lead. Another scrum penalty against Canterbury after 34 minutes gave Wilson a fourth chance and he was on target from 30m to close the gap to seven points.

Southland enjoyed a good spell on attack as half-time neared, but could not find the polish to finish off, the Shield holder leading 16-9 at the break.

Southland continued to hold the ascendancy for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but kept making mistakes as it worked to Canterbury's line. After 12 minutes and more than a dozen drives to the line, Southland went over, but the TMO ruled the grounding was inconclusive and a 5m scrum resulted.

Again Southland rumbled to the line only to be denied by stoic defence. After 57 minutes, Southland received a penalty and decided to go for the points, Wilson successfully landing the angled goal to bring the score to 16-12.

Some awful Canterbury passing gave wing Glenn Horton a chance, but Taylor cut him down. However, Southland won the lineout and halfback Scott Cowan burrowed over, Wilson adding the extras for a 19-16 lead.

Taylor missed a dropped goal from almost in front after 67 minutes as Canterbury surged back, but he slotted a 38m from in front two minutes later to tie the scores. Wilson missed a dropped goal attempt from 30m with eight minutes to play.

Southland hammered the Canterbury line as the clock wound down, Cowan knocking on with the line looming. Ryan Crotty had a kick charged down in goal and from the scrum Wilson kicked a dropped goal from close range for a 22-19 lead.

Another turnover by Canterbury with two minutes remaining proved crucial as Southland kept the ball in the forwards until the final hooter sounded and the ball was kicked out of the park.


Canterbury 19 (Patrick Osborne, Sean Maitland tries; Tom Taylor 3 pen) Southland 22 (Scott Cowan try; James Wilson con, 4 pen, dropped goal). HT: 9-16