The Canterbury Maori XV made better use of the weather conditions to beat North Canterbury 21-14 and gain some valuable points towards claiming the Tane Norton Cup, in their rugby match played at Rangiora’s Southbrook Park.
While the weather was an unpleasant factor, another barrier was the similar coloured clothing worn by both teams with the only clearly noticeable difference being the colour of the numbers worn.
With a strong easterly at their backs Canterbury Maori got off to a flyer and capitalised on a break in the rain. Playing with cohesion and purpose their first try came after just ten minutes when fullback Jordan French was on hand as last receiver to score.
Fifteen minutes later, their captain Logan Bell scored following a rolling maul that rumbled to within metres of the North Canterbury goal line. It took just another ten minutes for Bell to score again. With Jack McLeod converting all three tries, the visitors went into the break with what looked like a comfortable 21-0 lead.
It was then the home sides turn to execute some domination in the second half, and despite the rain returning both teams did their best play constructive rugby. North Canterbury fullback Corrigan Harnett found a rare gap in the defence to score early in the half and give North Canterbury a fighting chance.
The longer the game went in the second half the wetter it became, but North Canterbury settled into a game plan. Twice driving over the line only to be held up by a determined Maori defence.
But just as the ref got set to blow his whistle for full time North Canterbury substitute Adam Reid became the beneficiary of some solid build up that comprised a series of rolling mauls and pick and go sequences.
Five eight Brook Retallick converted to narrow the gap to seven points exactly where the game would finish.
North Canterbury did have success in the Colts game winning 17-13.
Words: Lindsay Kerr