Referee: Paddy O'brien
Counties 22 - Canterbury 82
Oh sweet, sweet revenge!
Not that this complete thrashing makes up completely for the Counties win at Jade stadium last year that forced us to travel up to Mooloo land for the semifinal but it sure feels good!
According to Keith Quinn this was a record total score (both teams combined) for an NPC first division game which is impressive enough, but when you consider that the previous record was set by an in-form Auckland over the now second division King Country you can really appreciate what an effort this was.
This cricket score was posted against Counties for god's sake! These guys generally finish in the top 4 or 5 of the NPC.
What a great way to celebrate Robbie Deans' 40th birthday, and Aaron Flynns' 50th NPC game for the Red 'n Blacks.
The Canterbury pack totally dominated the Steelos, and everyone had a very good game although Reuben Thorne, Steve Lancaster and Steve Surridge had especially commanding performances. Thorne played the best game I have ever seen him play, providing a solid option in the lineout (did you notice that John Hart?) and always popping up to take the pass and set things up for the next phase. A joy to watch.
The backline were equally impressive, although if you told me that Canterbury would score 12 tries (7 in the first half alone!) and Afato, the excitment machine, wouldn't score any of them then I would have slapped you silly and called you Nigel. Play just didn't run his way, in fact I don't think either of the wingers scored a try. The West Coast sensation Ben Blair scored a hat-trick from the fullback spot (along with kicking 11/12 conversions, give that lad the man-of-the-match award) and a strong return for Bubs Mayerholfer was rewarded with a couple of characteristic (and as always, painful looking) high-dives over the line.
What a celebration, bring on the Aucks next week!