Butcher Boys take Meads Cup - again

The Dominion Post - - Sport - STU PIDDINGTON

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.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Wan­ganui cen­tre Kaveni Dabenaise breaks away for a try dur­ing the Meads Cup fi­nal against Horowhenua Kapiti at Levin Do­main.

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