South­ern men win rugby’s Wat­ters Cup

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - SPORT - ERIN TASKER

South­ern has got their hands on the Mid Can­ter­bury Rugby Union’s big­gest prize, and this time around they don’t have to share it.

The Wat­ters Cup went on the line at the May­field Show­grounds on Sun­day, and while it was a re­peat of last year’s fi­nal be­tween South­ern and Rakaia, a re­peat of last year’s con­tro­ver­sial draw wasn’t on the cards af­ter a rule change al­lowed for 10 min­utes of ex­tra time.

The ex­tra min­utes weren’t re­quired though, as South­ern – on their home turf at May­field, af­ter heavy rain and flood­ing deemed the Ash­bur­ton Show­grounds un­playable, forc­ing the game to be moved and de­layed by a day – edged ahead on the sec­ond half. Down at the break, they came back and held on for a 35-21 win.

Beaten Com­bined Coun­try Cup fi­nal­ists Rakaia had started the bet­ter of the two sides, go­ing up 6-0 thanks to two penal­ties off the ever re­li­able boot of Tom Han­ham-Carter, be­fore South­ern scored a try against the run of play to wing Corey How­ell. A Richard Fridd penalty gave South­ern the lead, be­fore Seta Koroita­mana snatched it back with a try just be­fore the break, to give Rakaia an 11-8 lead at the half­way mark.

South­ern pro­duced the per­fect start to the sec­ond half, with a Gideon Lam­brechts try giv­ing them the lead back, and they kept that pres­sure on, ex­tend­ing their lead with a try to Jon Damp­ney, who last week played his 200th se­nior game for the club.

Re­al­is­ing their sec­ond chance at sil­ver­ware for the sea­son was slip­ping away as it had against South­bridge in the Com­bined Coun­try Cup fi­nal, Rakaia sprung into ac­tion. Wil­lie McGoon looked to have scored in the cor­ner, but af­ter a lengthy discussion be­tween ref­eree and touch judge, was ruled to have been in touch. It was to be a turn­ing point in the match.

South­ern struck straight back with their fourth try of the day, and while Koroita­mana got one back for Rakaia, time was run­ning out.

A Han­ham-Carter penalty re­duced the gap to six, 27-21, putting Rakaia within a con­verted try, but when South­ern was awarded a penalty of its own right in front with time al­most up, the game slipped from Rakaia’s grasp. How­ell’s sec­ond try of the day then sealed the deal.

Just two weeks ago, Rakaia scored a last minute try through Maleli Sau to snatch vic­tory from un­der South­ern’s nose in the round robin, but no such come­back even­tu­ated on Sun­day.

Sau, who scored a hat-trick and starred for Rakaia in that last game, was lucky to even make the field on Sun­day af­ter end­ing up in hos­pi­tal on Thurs­day night thanks to a trou­ble­some boil. He was ini­tially named on the bench, but with the weather de­lay al­low­ing an ex­tra day to re­cover, he man­aged to start.

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

South­ern’s Lo­gan Bon­ning­ton on the charge dur­ing the Wat­ters Cup fi­nal. South­ern beat Rakaia 35-21.

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