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Ellesmere Retain Southbridge Shield
Ellesmere claimed their sixth consecutive Southbridge Shield win with a 24-10 win against North Canterbury at Lincoln on Saturday. The home side’s remarkable winning streak in the annual Country clash continued on the back of a strong defensive effort.
Ellesmere’s attack was sharp also, with elusive Waihora fullback Mark Maitland scoring a try and setting up two others. North Canterbury’s defence was solid for the most part, but crucial lapses led to tries and they allowed the opposition to regularly keep the ball alive.
Ellesmere coach Mark Treweek said after the match he was “elated”. The win was built on defence and “pride in the jersey”, he said. "The way we defended our line on a number of occasions in the first half, and in the second half, was quite outstanding.
“The boys know that defence wins games and, fortunately, that’s what happened. It was good to beat them by more than just a couple of points for a change.”
Treweek praised Maitland’s “incredible” performance at the back.
“No-one played badly, and that’s a mark of our team this year. Across the board from one to 22 we’ve got experience and youth, and they both combined well together.”
North Canterbury opened the scoring through a penalty to fullback Brook Retallick, and maintained the pressure in the first quarter. Ellesmere hit back against the run of play when a break down the left by wing Daniel Murray was eventually finished by Maitland, who scythed through midfield.
Both sides missed crucial penalty kicks, but the home side went one better when Maitland swooped on an errant North Canterbury pass and sent Murray away for a converted try on the stroke of half time.
Trailing 14-3, the visitors needed to start the second half well. However, from the kickoff, Maitland spotted a gap out wide and set up a break that ended in Murray’s second try. North Canterbury hit straight back through No.8 Stew Dalzell, which gave them a sniff at 19-10.
Neither side was able to make the break through, until Ellesmere replacement Sam Dickson put the result beyond doubt when he charged down a kicked from the base of a ruck and scampered 25 metres to score.
Treweek said the three-match campaign was one of the best he had been involved in.
“This team, without a doubt, would be the best I’ve been involved with, as far as camaraderie goes, skill level and youth. What’s made this team exceptional is that everyone we’ve brought on, the team has performed exactly the same way.”
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