Wellington Lions Take Home NPC Title
|Photo Courtesy of Wellington Rugby|
Wellington had returned home empty-handed from six finals, but on the night there was no denying their right to lock the championship away for the summer alongside the Ranfurly Shield.
As the amount of desperation in the home team's ranks increased, Wellington tightened their defense even more. They pursued Canterbury the entire game, catching them behind the advantage line and With around 10 minutes left, they overpowered the Canterbury scrum returning to their 22-meter zone with a scrum feed to further demonstrate their confidence.
That was not all, Wellington competed well at lineout time, and at crucial moments, surprised Canterbury by claiming the ball.
When Canterbury scored following a kick by fullback Chay Fihaki into the in-goal area, they ensured a dramatic conclusion to a pulsating final. He was taken without the ball, but replacement, Ngatungane Punivai, ran after it fiercely and got it to score.
|Image Courtesy of Bunnings NPC|
It became into a contest of who would break first as both sides pushed bodies into trying to make breakthroughs. Luke Romano, a seasoned lock for Canterbury, was used right away to charge at the defense. Wellington, though, were unyielding.
The majority of the second half was spent by Canterbury in their own half, as Wellington's defense consistently stopped them to uphold the proverb "defense wins championships."
Canterbury 18 (Manasa Mataele, Ngatungane Punivai tries; Fergus Burke con, 2 pen)
Wellington 26 (Ruben Love, Asafo Aumua tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con, 3 pen; Love pen). HT: 13-17
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