Mid Canterbury win the Lochore Cup
Mid Canterbury thumped West Coast 47-15 to claim rugby’s Heartland Championship Lochore Cup on Saturday, despite playing most of the final in Methven with only 14 men.
In an incredible start to the match, Mid Canterbury fullback – and Heartland Championship top try scorer – Maleli Sau was sent off after just three minutes, for a high tackle on West Coast secondfive Logan Heath, and barely a minute later he was joined on the sideline by his captain Jackson Donlan, sinbinned for a deliberate knock down. The news got even worse for the home crowd, with that knock down deemed to have stopped a certain try, so a penalty try was awarded and suddenly West Coast had a 10-0 lead.
But only having 13 men for 10 minutes didn’t hamper Mid Canterbury, as they ran in two tries to take the lead, the first scored by Tom Hanham-Carter and the second by Christian Vainerere.
The Jarred Percival conversion and a penalty soon after gave Mid Canterbury a 15-10 lead, before Vainerere again got into the action, popping the last pass out to Willie McGoon who crossed for his side’s third try of the day.
Isei Lewaqai crossed for the Coasters to narrow the gap to 22-15, before a penalty and long range drop goal by Percival made it 28-15 at the break.
After an action packed firsthalf, the first 20 minutes after the break was virtually all West Coast, but it was all for no reward. Mid Canterbury’s defence held strong and once they did get back down the other end of the field, they made it count, with Seta Koroitamana crossing for his side’s fourth try, off the back of a massive Mid Canterbury scrum.
Five minutes later, Koroitamana’s second try – set up by a powerful run by McGoon – put the result beyond doubt.
Just to rub salt into the wound, West Coast’s Regan Stanton became the third card recipient of the day, spending the final 10 minutes sitting on the sideline, before replacement Mid Canterbury back Dan Fransen scored the final try of the match.
Mid Canterbury captain Donlan said his side played with heart; heart that kept them in the game and gave them belief when they only had 13 players, and heart that led to impressive scampering defence to deny West Coast any points in the second half.
Mid Canterbury captain Jackson Donlan and his team mates celebrate with the Lochore Cup.