Canterbury claimed their fourth consecutive New Zealand provincial championship title as they won the ITM Cup Final, beating Waikato 12-3 in a tense affair on Saturday. Here’s one of the games’s more controversial moments.
It was the first ever tryless final in the NPC, as Waikato Stadium witnessed a hard fought battle that boiled over in the 60th minute as fullback Sean Maitland and lock Romana Graham came to blows off the ball.
Maitland had thrown a shocker of a pass before Graham, himself no stranger to a bit of the rough stuff, stuck his shoulder into the Canterbury flyer. Maitland retaliated, and a scuffle broke out that seemed to be just a bit of handbags before Graham stepped things up a level.
It was missed by the onfield officials and to this point it seems as though there has been no citing. We’ll keep an eye on how that develops but as it’s the end of the season, it’s possibly a tricky one. You’d expect a blatant headbutt to land him a hefty few months out of the game though.
As for the rest of the match, there weren’t too many other highlights worth showing, but it was one of those old fashioned type of arm-wrestles, which Canterbury won thanks to some good kicking from young Tom Taylor, who slotted all his kicks at goal.
“This is for the people of Christchurch,” said captain George Whitelock afterwards. “It’s the way we played in the second half, we really closed the game out from Waikato and for such a young group to do that is really pleasing, so the future of Canterbury rugby’s really strong,” he added.
Update: Graham has now been cited