7:35pm, 16 August, 2002
Ref: Paul Honis
Final: Wellington 33 - Canterbury 24
Great win by Wellington, they really showed the young fellas in the Canterbury team what first division footie is all about.
I really can't believe I picked Canty to win by 8-14, it was pretty obvious from the first 5 minutes that if any thing it was going to be a close game, and really Wellington had the more experienced squad. I guess I succumbed to SG's hype. :)
The Canterbury lineout sucked big time, the main culprit, the young hooker who played the first 60min (Laurence Corlett I think), had a shocking game all round really, not good for a young players confidence.
I thought Canty competed very well at scrum time and when we had the ball in hand we were awesome, especially the wingers Maddock and Tupuailei, but when you give away so much possession (60%-40%, with the lineouts 19-5, both in favour of Wellington) then you are really going to struggle to keep it close.
It was great to see Jonah back on the paddock, and the highlight of his day was a huge spot tackle he put on a young Canty loosie (as in loose teeth after that tackle!).
He still seems to stand around a lot when he doesn't have the ball though, I guess that's the workrate issues that the AB management team are concerned about.
The SkyTV team gave Rodney So'oalo the player of the day award (he scored two tries) but the most valuable Wellington player for me Luke Andrews, he normally plays lock (he played for Southland last NPC and the Canes this year) but he had a huge game at blindside and probably accounted for at least half the stolen ball at lineout time.
All in all an entertaining game of rugby, and a great start to the season for a team that needs to get it's confidence back so they can try to regain some of their cheek and flair that has made them the entertainer in NPC rugby over the last few seasons.
As for Canterbury the won't get down about this loss, and neither will many Canty fans I suspect. Maybe it's because we have got an entire other team of superstars to pick from for the rest of the season! :)
Bring it on, and go the underdog for the rest of the weekend!