Cooper: low-key bid lifts Shield
VETERAN coach Colin Cooper believes their deliberate ploy not to talk about the Ranfurly Shield helped Taranaki take New Zealand’s most prized provincial trophy off Canterbury.
Instead of making the Shield the focal point of their match in Christchurch, Cooper and his management team opted to put the focus on the importance of the Mitre 10 Cup points that were on offer.
The result was not only a stunning 55-43 win, which took them to the top of the premiership table, but the Ranfurly Shield found its way back to New Plymouth for the first time since 2012.
‘‘The bigger goal was always trying to get a home semifinal and we wanted to make sure they were hearing that clearly,’’ he said. ‘‘Last year [against Waikato] we didn’t mention that, it was all about the Shield and we threw everything at them about the Shield. After we drew that and didn’t win it, it was so tough to bring them back up. It kept everyone balanced I think.’’
Cooper found it hard to split the triumph they enjoyed when he first won it against Southland in 2011 and Friday night’s victory over Canterbury.
‘‘[The] 2011 [win] was special because it was the first time,’’ he said. ‘‘But winning there [Christchurch] has always been tough.’’
Despite falling 31-7 behind, Cooper always held belief the side could come back.
‘‘We made 10 errors at the start and they scored three tries off those. We were still confident because we had a great week leading up to it and we were pretty confident even when we were down by so many points.’’
While they were able to enjoy a day of celebrating what they achieved, he was mindful of the quick turnaround and the fact they faced Manawatu’s challenge on Wednesday.
He believed that short back-up would work in their favour, as it did back in 2011 when they faced a challenge from Hawke’s Bay just a few days after winning the Shield.
‘‘I think we have some good momentum and I’m sure the guys will take a lot of confidence from the win [over Canterbury].’’
A standout from the win was flanker Lachlan Boshier, who not only scored two tries, but put a man-of-the-match performance PHOTOSPORT
‘ We went into halftime and saw it was only 10 points and we thought we weren’t too far away. The belief was always there.’ COLIN COOPER
around the field. He was clearly jaded after arriving back in New Plymouth, as well as being sore from such a physical encounter.
‘‘Everyone was pretty happy with me after I came off and thought I’d played well,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a pretty quick game, really physical. It felt like it was next level from what we had been playing in the previous weeks, they certainly brought it to us but I thought the boys handled it well and were pretty calm.’’
That calmness, he said, was there even though they fell so far behind on the scoreboard.
‘‘It was a bit strange because I thought we were doing some good things but nothing was going our way. It just felt like they had the rub of the green in the first half and then we started scoring some tries.
‘‘We went into halftime and saw it was only 10 points and we thought we weren’t too far away. The belief was always there. The second half, it was amazing how we got on top and just got on a roll.’’
Angus Ta’avao holds up the Shield on Friday night.