By Myles Hume
Canterbury has suffered its first ITM Cup loss of the season to the hands of Southland but it’s the poaching of their Ranfurly Shield that has the red-and-blacks seeing red.
After a dominant first-half performance, Canterbury seemingly took their foot off the gas as a drop goal from the boot of Southland’s first five-eighths James Wilson secured the 22-19 win at Rugby Park yesterday.
Canterbury showed glimpses of brilliance, in the first-half, that carried on from the previous beating of Auckland last week but the team lacked “continuity” in the second-half where the Stags starved them of possession, dominated at ruck time and spent most of the half camped in the Canterbury 22.
Head coach Rob Penney said he felt the game was lost by his team, not exactly won by Southland.
“I thought it was a mixed performance. There were some good aspects of play and some disappointing parts but overall it was a pretty inconsistent performance.
“I don’t think Southland had it over us in any aspects we just didn’t play that well.”
The Cantabrians opened their account early when exciting Fijian wing Patrick Osborne broke through the Southland defence on the blindside and then beat fullback Robbie Robinson to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Canterbury first five-eighth Tom Taylor and Southland’s Wilson exchanged penalties to take the score out to 8-6 in the 17th minute.
Moments after, Canterbury were in again, after a classic backs move off the lineout to allow athletic fullback Sean Maitland to dot down out wide.
Canterbury won their own lineout on the Southland 22-metre when halfback Willi Heinz looped round the back of the backline to receive a pass from Taylor, Heinz then penetrated the Stags backline before floating a pass over to Maitland who finished well, leaving the score at 13-6 in Canterbury’s favour.
Taylor and Wilson both capitalised on penalty opportunities to leave the score at 16-9 at the break.
The Southerners came out in a dominant mood in the second-half, starving Canterbury of the ball and spending long periods of time on the Canterbury line.
“I thought we didn’t play well enough and I didn’t think the set piece was good enough too. The lineout was a bit shaky and they really taught us some lessons at the breakdown,” said Penney.
Canterbury eventually cracked under the pressure after Southland piled on 10 points in 21 minutes thanks to a try by halfback Scott Cowan and the accurate kicking of Wilson to take the lead.
Taylor then showed his cool demeanor once again nailing a penalty, locking up the score at 19-19.
Wilson then stepped-up to the plate - after missing a drop goal minutes earlier - to put his second attempt over and to secure the Ranfurly Shield for his teammates.
Canterbury are looking to regain their form when they take on Wellington this Wednesday especially after “learning” from the disappointing Southland loss.
On the flip-side there was some good news for Canterbury as no injuries came from the Southland defeat leaving a full-strength side to pick from for coaches Rob Penney and Tabai Matson, however Penney said that some of the Crusaders players won’t be making the trip up north.
Canterbury – 19 (tries: Patrick Osborne, Sean Maitland; Tom Taylor 3 pen)
Southland – 22 (tries: Scott Cowan; James Wilson 4 pen, 1 conv, 1 drop goal)