Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Southland failed to hang onto the Ranfurley Shield after a valiant effort in front of their home crowd at Invercargill on the weekend, as Canterbury proved too strong, taking the game 26-16 thanks in large part to great performances from Colin Slade and Sonny Bill Williams.
The Southland Stags have hung onto the famous log of wood since claiming it from Canterbury a year ago, and despite showing incredible form this season and fighting all the way, struggled to hang onto it as the bigger union wretched it from their grasp.
At halftime the gap was just three points, but Colin Slade came to the party as he scored a try and amassed 21 points in total. "You know the boys really dug deep and put on a fantastic performance, and its something the whole community can be proud of, and it's a fantastic turnout," sad Slade of the team performance.
Williams on the other hand did what hes done all season as he showed touches of genuine class throughout the game, including setting up the first try for Telusa Veainu, playing a part in the Slade trys build up, and then making a 50m break which featured a massive hand off on a would-be Stag tackler.
"I think we had the overlap and the bloke in front of me was drifting pretty hard. It was probably just instinct, you know," Williams said.
"I don't have a really big boot on me, so I thought I would just tuck it and have a crack. It was another first and something I will look back upon with fond memories because we are taking that shield back home, brother." The All Blacks touring squad will get picked on Sunday. Expect his name to be on that list.
For Southland, heartbreak, but they had lived on the edge in recent times, only conceding three tries in their last six matches but also managing to score very few. The results were close, and with Canterbury coming into the match with the better pedigree and a few experienced All Blacks, they were always going to be the favourites.
"It had to come to an end some day, and I'm pretty devastated today," said an emotional Jamie MacKintosh, Southland captain. There was a nice touch afterwards as he handed over the shield.
"But at the end of the day these memories are going to stick with me till I die."