The final score was 103-0. Canterbury ran in 15 tries (someone missed 1 conversion, they must feel special!) in their complete demolition of 3rd Division South Canterbury.
The Ranfurly shield is put on the line for every home game during the NPC tournament but it is traditional for the current holder to take it on tour to some of the smaller (and generally weaker) Unions in the month leading up to the start of the NPC.
The Shield has been dominated by first division sides for ages now (I'm sure Daz will give us the stats!) and almost without exception all the current Super12 players are playing for a first division team in the NPC. What this means for these early challenges is that a bunch of professionals come into town to play the local team which is made up of amateurs, and a lot of young amateurs at that.
The result is generally a cricket score like this one, but thats not really the point. A huge crowd of locals generally turn out to see their boys play their hearts out against the big boys, and it's a chance for them to see these top players in the flesh in a much lessed hyped atmosphere that a Super 12 or NPC game.
I listened to the radio coverage for a good part of the game and it sounded pretty entertaining. Canterbury (and the Crusaders) has got some amazing depth in their squad and even with Thorn, Somerville, Marshall, Merhtens, Maxwell, Jack, Hammet and MacDonald all away on AB duty they still fielded a very strong team.
I'm not sure of the full team for this match but pretty much all of the Crusaders squad are in the Canterbury squad as well. These are the details on the players that I picked up from the commentary.
Todd Blackadder and Brad Thorne played at lock, and Greg Feek and Dave Hewitt played prop, in the loosies Scott Robertson actually played at No. 8 (he played there in the game against Buller as well, and supposedly in a game against the Maoris a month or so back which I never heard about) and by all accounts went very well in all those matches. He certainly has the size to play the position and I guess he figures it might help his chances of getting back into the AB if he has some versatility. It might help, but personally I think the AB selectors have given up on him, and certainly most of the rest of the nation don't think he has what it takes to play test match footie. (Through my one good eye I always thought he could have made it, but I'm willing to concede this one!)
As a result Sam Broomhall (who was the starting No 8 for the Crusaders last season) played on the blindside, I'm not sure who played openside.
In the backs Ben Hurst and Aaron Mauger got some time in 9 & 10, Nathan Mauger got some time in the mid-field, I think Mark Robinson got some game time there too but I'm not certain on that.
Daryl Gibson was rested for this match, most of these guys are playing club rugby at the moment and I think he was carrying an injury from a club game.
Ben Blair played at Fullback and slotted most of the 14 conversions, Caleb Ralph played on one wing and then a whole host of young talent filled in the gaps and got some game time.
It sounded like Sth Canterbury had some chances but the Canterbury defence just monstered them into turning the ball over and then clinical attack almost invariably resulted in a try for them.
Canterbury take the shield up to Nelson Bays for their last pre-NPC challenge in what should be a far stronger challenge. No doubt the Nelson supporters will turn out in droves for the game.