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Adversity inspires Canterbury's ITM triumph

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Sunday, September 4, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

Parker, the elected leader of the earthquake-plagued city, announced the team to play the final to the players earlier in the week and reflected on all that had happened to the region over the previous 12 months.

But coach Rob Penney said he was especially pleased with the way his side was able to turn around the beating they received at Waikato's hands just over a fortnight earlier.

"We wanted to nullify [first five-eighths] Stephen Donald's running, especially down the inside channel and to monopolise possession and take control at the breakdown. It was a gutsy performance.

"We knew if we could keep it close, in the later stages Waikato would try to play as individuals and that would enhance our defensive capability," he said.

"We're extremely proud, both as players and as a management group. For some of the players it is their first title but we have a few who have been involved in all four titles. The win means different things to different people.

"Any championship win is very special," he said.

Captain George Whitelock, who had been involved in all four wins, said he was delighted with the way the side had progressed through the season.

"We improved a hell of a lot every game. Our win ratio wasn't great but we scored bonus point tries and that kept us up there.

"Our performance tonight was really pleasing," he said.

The way the defence had held together was impressive and Waikato were forced into forcing passes and infringing at key plays.

Penney acknowledged the role of replacement first five-eighths Tom Taylor, who landed all four Canterbury penalty goals. Tyler Bleyendaal had suffered a quad injury at the captain's run on Friday and that reduced his effectiveness. But Taylor had stepped up.

He was a cool player who had a big future, Penney said. He had been a prospect to play last year but physically wasn't ready. That disappointed him but he went away and worked on his physique and had the benefits this year.

"He has some great years in front of him. We are blessed with the quality of 10s who have emerged in the country now," he said.