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Metro Division 1 - Final
Christchurch won the Division One Trophy for the second season on the trot with an entertaining 47-29 win against Burnside at a packed Rugby Park on Sunday.
This was not a final for the faint-hearted and although Christchurch probably deserved to win, Burnside certainly got closer than what the final score indicates. While it was not a game for the purist, it was a gripping encounter played generally at a fast-pace.
Christchurch started and finished stronger and this was telling: they led 10-3 after 11 minutes and, especially thanks to the work of Matt Todd, they were firing.
Burnside however hit back thanks to a terrific individual try by full-back Mike Davis that saw the full-back chop through the Christchurch defence like a hot knife through butter. A Tom Taylor penalty for Burnside after 18 minutes gave them a deserved 11-10 lead.
This is when Matt Todd’s class shone though: he was the best player on the field in the final and his try after 21 minutes when he strode through some weak Burnside inside defence showed his undeniable class.
With Jason Merrett kicking superbly the red and blacks went into half-time deservedly 23-17 ahead.
Burnside came out firing in the second half and was able to string together a number of phases of play that in the first ten minutes led to tries to captain Will Catherwood and half-back Brett Cameron.
Now ahead 29-23 ahead, Burnside had obvious momentum. Still, this is a Christchurch side with experience and class and they did not panic.
Then the red and black blitz: Christchurch maintained possession, put phases together and got field possession. A penalty by Merrett was quickly followed by tries to prop Sam Cottam (playing for 50th match for Christchurch), hooker Will Hurst and Canterbury player Sam Monaghan. With Merrett kicking like a dream the red and blacks had shot out to 47-29 and effectively won the match by the 30th minute in the second half.
This devastating six-minute burst by Christchurch was clinical and it was pretty to watch. Christchurch captain Chris Mason recognised this after the match stating that there had been pressure on the reigning champions going into the match.
“We were out-played early in the second half and so we had to show real composure to get ourselves back into the game. Thankfully we were able to get ourselves together and strike back with those three tries.”
Chris says that his side’s “umbrella D” was pleasing and that it had improved after a lot of work. “About six weeks ago we were leaking some tries and so we have worked really hard on that and it worked in the final.”
Burnside captain Will Catherwood (who had an outstanding match) says that his side was naturally disappointed to lose a game that had been an open and free-flowing spectacle for the large crowd.
“We missed too many tackles and that proved costly. Christchurch though was too clinical and was better at the set piece. They took their opportunities and deserved their win.” Will says that while Christchurch’s Canterbury players stood up he was happy with the performances of his two representative players. He says that his young side has plenty to look forward to in the seasons ahead.
Along with Todd and Catherwood, outstanding were Merrett and Joel Everson for Christchurch and Davis and prop Henry Johnstone for Burnside.
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