Butcher Boys take Meads Cup - again
So when Mo’unga, who earlier scored two tries and gashed the Makos for 143 metres on 17 carries, fittingly hoofed the ball into touch after the final hooter, the joy was plain to see.
‘‘Whose got it better than us?’’ Mo’unga barked at the conclusion of the team’s celebratory chant. ‘‘Nobody!’’ was the emphatic response from his team-mates.
Having just won a ninth title in 10 years, the Canterbury dynasty is showing no signs of slowing down as it closes in on Auckland’s 16 titles.
‘‘To set out a vision like this at the start of the season, and then to achieve it with a good group of men and a good group of boys. It hasn’t been the perfect season for us, there’s been a lot more downs than we’re used to, but I’m proud of the way we really stuck in and kept getting up,’’ Mo’unga said.
Losing the Shield wasn’t the only painful moment of the season, which started with a 39-0 win against Tasman.
A 60-14 towelling, the team’s worst loss in their 138-year history, at the hands of Wellington in round five raised eyebrows. It marked just the fourth time they’d conceded 50 or more points, only for it to happen a fifth time against Taranaki.
However, when it mattered, they regrouped and delivered the province another title to ensure the joint Crusaders and Canterbury headquarters at Rugby Park is home to both the Super Rugby trophy and national provincial title for the first time since 2008.
‘‘We’ve kind of come full circle,’’ departing Canterbury coach Glenn Delaney said. ’’We got the opening game 100 per cent right, and I think we got the last game pretty right.
‘‘It’s really satisfying. The boys have worked really hard all season and it’s not all gone our way. There’s been lots of learning, but to put a performance together like that – at the time it mattered – shows their character and their ability to focus and concentrate on the big item.’’
Mo’unga, compared to All Blacks legend Dan Carter by Tasman coach Leon MacDonald earlier this year, said jumped on a plane bound for London last night. The 23-year-old and team-mates Dominic Bird and Mitchell Drummond will play for the Barbarians against the All Blacks next weekend, before joining the national side for the French leg of the northern tour.
‘‘We want to succeed, we want to be better players, we want to be better people. We’re always asking more of each other and that’s why this [team] is so successful. I don’t like it when it’s a day off. I want to come in and see the boys. I want to keep training hard and keep making everyone better.’’ The Butcher Boys’ legendary status in the Meads Cup continued on Saturday when they lifted their third successive title.
Wanganui were too composed for first-time finalists Horowhenua Kapiti, winning 30-14 at Levin Domain.
Horowhenua Kapiti made too many mistakes under pressure, while Wanganui deserved their victory, scoring three tries to one.
Wanganui left wing Cameron Crowley, the 2008 Heartland player of the year, turned back the clock with an outstanding performance, delivering two tries and scoring one himself.
It was the sixth time Wanganui have lifted the Meads Cup since the Heartland Championship was created in 2006.
This year they did it the hard way, dropping three games in the round-robin, and only scrambling through to the top four on points differential ahead of Mid Canterbury and West Coast. They then beat No 1 seeds South Canterbury 29-24 away in Timaru in the semifinal before accounting for Horowhenua Kapiti.
In the final, Wanganui had heroes across the field from captain Cole Baldwin up front to Nick Harding at fullback.
No 8 Bryn Hudson had a strong game, halfback Lindsay Horrocks was all class, while first-five Dane Whale and second five Craig Clare combined superbly.
For Horowhenua Kapiti, captain and Ryan Shelford impressed along with No 8 Tyson Maki.
Horowhenua Kapiti kicked too much possession away and were made to pay by Wanganui’s counter-attacks.
After a sloppy opening from both sides, Wanganui were first on the board with a set move from a scrum.
An inside pass from Clare found hard running left wing Crowley who burst open Horowhenua Kapiti and centre Kaveni Dabenaise scored, with Clare adding the extras.
First-five James So’oialo then gave Horowhenua couple of half chances through clever kicks but they could not finish off to opportunities.
Clare then missed two shots at goal as the errors mounted against the home side. Another penalty saw Wanganui switch kickers but Harding also missed from 45m.
Horowhenua Kapiti fullback Andrew McDougall then made a great run from the back sparking his side, and shortly afterwards So’oialo landed a penalty to close the gap to 7-3 after 34 minutes.
Almost immediately Wanganui restored their advantage with Clare landing a handy penalty.
Clare then extended the Butcher Boys’ lead immediately after the break to 13-3 with his second penalty, before Harding missed again from long distance.
So’oialo then closed the gap again with a penalty as Horowhenua Kapiti started to show more intensity.
The hosts then packed down and excellent scrum and won a penalty against the feed, and So’oialo added his third penalty to make it 13-9 but that was as close as they got.
Wanganui struck straight back with a variation of their first-half try with Crowley busting Horowhenua Kapiti open again and substitute wing Samu Kubunavanua benefiting, scoring with his first touch of the ball.
Harding’s sideline conversion gave them a 20-9 advantage, with 20 minutes remaining.
Crowley then sealed it for Wanganui when he scored after excellent play from Whale and Dabenaise sent him away.
Horowhenua Kapiti supporters then had something to cheer about when big second-five Kalim Kelemete found some space and sent McDougall, who was dangerous with limited opportunities, away to score.
Whale then shut the door on Horowhenua Kapiti with a drop goal with three minutes left.
At Methven yesterday, Mid Canterbury scored six tries to two as they beat West Coast 47-15 to win the Lochore Cup.
Wanganui centre Kaveni Dabenaise breaks away for a try during the Meads Cup final against Horowhenua Kapiti at Levin Domain.