RANFURLY SHIELD and NPC rugby CANTY v WAIKATO
RANFURLY Shield and NPC rugby, Waikato v
Saturday, 23 Sept, 2000, Rugby Park, Hamilton
NEW ZEALAND'S most famous sporting trophy rugby's Ranfurly Shield is heading south to Christchurch for the first time since 1994 after Canterbury won the 'log o wood' by beating Waikato 26-18 today.
Inspired by a rugged effort from the pack, with All Black Scott Roberton is outstanding form, Canterbury played a simple game plan aimed at playing in the Waikato half; minimising errors; and taking full advantage of any Waikato turnovers.
And with Andrew Merhtens playing a wonderful tactical role at 1st five eighth, rookie half-back Ben Hurst on form and fullback Ben Blair kicking with the accuracy of an exocet missile Canterbury took a 16-13 lead into the break.
The second half saw the red and black machine step up the pace. And while Waikato never gave up and defended the shield with every once of their energy, it wasn't good enought to stop the Canterbury skipper Daryl Gibson from having the honour and undoubted pleasure of lifting the shield high in victory, after the winning of a torrid but exciting game of rugby.
In addition to Blair, Merhtens and Hurst Fijian flyer Marika Vunibaka was at his rampant best while up front Sam Broomhall wasn't out of place alongside All Blacks Robertson and Reuben Thorn.
For Waikato, who were gallant in defeat and will be remembered for the 21 defences they completed to make them one of the most successful shield teams in history, captain Muir was inspiration personified while young front-rower Deacon Manu again proved himself the equal of top-notch international class opposition.