Darfield falls at final hurdle

by Kent Caddick

Heartbreak for Darfield rugby fans with an overtime loss in the final of the Ellesmere division one competition for the Coleman Shield.

Southbridge secured a rare Canterbury Country rugby double when captain Shannon Donald kicked a penalty in the 81st minute of the match against Darfield at Prebbleton Domain to retain the shield with a 16-15 victory on Saturday afternoon.

The Coleman Shield now sits alongside the Combined Canterbury Country rugby championship cup in the Southbridge trophy cabinet.

Southbridge's Isileli Fine caharges at the Darfield defence

Like its win in the combined championship Southbridge needed to come from behind to secure the Coleman Shield.

Darfield, which has never won the Coleman Shield, played the first half with the wind at its back and spurred on by the desire to mark flanker Blair McIlroy’s 200th match with a win took the early lead.

Darfield rugby fans were out in full force for the Coleman Shield final

Tries to prop Hamish Pauling and halfback Harry Pankhurst gave the Malvern based side a 12-0 leading heading into halftime. But foreshadowing what was to come Southbridge struck back with Tom Turner racing in for a try after the first half hooter had gone. 

Donald converted and cut Darfield’s lead to 12-7 at the break.

The second half was a real arm wrestle with neither side being able to cross the tryline. However, two penalties from Donald, one a long range effort from halfway, saw the Ellesmere based side edge in front 13-12 with 15 minutes to go in the match.

Darfield’s hopes were raised when Alex Parker nailed a penalty to give his side a 15-13 lead with eight minutes left on the clock.

Hamish Pauling on the charge for Darfield

Southbridge threw everything at Darfield in the closing minutes of the match and with the fulltime hooter having sounded Darfield fans could almost taste victory.

However, Southbridge maintained possession and Darfield conceded a penalty and once again, like he had done in the Canterbury Country final, Donald stepped up to kick the winning penalty.

Darfield captain Harry Pankhurst, left, congratulates Blair McIlroy 
on his 200th appearance for the club before the start of the 
Coleman Shield final.