The Red 'n Blacks march onwards
by Tracey Nelson
19 Sep 2000
This game turned out to be a bit of romp in the sun for Canterbury, as we dished out a 71-8 hiding to the boys from the deep south. Southland played valiantly for the first 10 minutes of the game, but then Canterbury hit it’s straps and the try-fest began.
Ben Blair took the field about 15 minutes into the first half after MacDonald left with an ankle injury, and proceeded to set the game alight with his running and also some excellent goal kicking. His incisive running and lethal sidestep were a delight to behold, and he was obviously relishing the dry conditions. With Blair taking over the goal kicking duties, Mehrts was freed up to really cut loose and set the backline in motion, which he did admirably with some very good running from Gibson outside him.
Of course, none of this could have taken place without yet another great effort from the forwards, in particular Reuben Thorne who really stood out around the field both in his linkage play on attack and his strong defence. While it was a quieter game this week from Toddy and Maxwell, they both did their job well and provided good ball from the lineouts and some strong driving play when taking the ball up.
However, it was the front row that really stood out for me this week. The scrums were massive, with Southland being shunted in every direction, even on their own feed. The workrate from the fat boys were outstanding, especially at ruck and maul time. One of the standout plays of the game came after reserve hooker Cuttance scooped the ball off the ground from a Southland error, stepped a player then ran before passing out to loosehead prop Hewett running the tramline. Hewett then looked back infield to the supporting runner who was none other than his fellow prop Somerville, who crashed over the line to score. A magnificent piece of play, made all the more glorious by the slightly embarrassed looks on their faces afterwards.
All in all it was a pretty good dress rehersal for the big game this weekend, which is the Ranfurly Shield challenge up in Mooloo land. Canterbury look focussed and have been very professional in their last two outings. The scrum is looking massive, the lineouts are tidy and the workrate is pleasing from the pack. The backline is looking sharp and is being directed well by a very in-form Mehrtens. Other than MacDonald, there are no injury concerns in the camp, and with the depth we can boast on the bench, things are looking very positive heading towards Saturday. Of course, Waikato defending the Shield in Hamilton is going to be no easy team to beat, but I believe this Canterbury team has peaked just at the right time and I am very hopeful of a good win. Touch wood, of course!!by