Waihora worthy Ellesmere champions
by Kent Caddick
Waihora has taken out the symbol of Ellesmere rugby supremacy the Coleman Shield and in doing so has completed the Canterbury Country rugby double.
After lifting the Canterbury Country Combined Cup earlier this season, Waihora downed Darfield 20–10 in the Ellesmere division one final at Darfield Domain on Saturday.
With two of its key players, fullback Mark Maitland and halfback Harry Kirk, playing for Canterbury against the All Blacks and Otago the night before, Waihora were a little slow to start in the final with Darfield scoring the only points of the first half, a penalty to fullback Alex Parker.
During the first half Waihora turned down a number of kickable penalties to go in search of a five-pointer — but that tactic changed in the second spell, and a Harry Kirk penalty had Waihora level after just four minutes.
Another Kirk penalty put Waihora in front, and that lead was extended five minutes later when Ryan Knoning plunged over for a try following a well-worked line-out move. The Kirk conversion had Waihora leading 11–3. Darfield struck back on the hour mark with a converted try to first five Scott Mitchell, but Koning was in the thick of things again 10 minutes later when he pulled in an intercept on the halfway line. He raced away from the Darfield defence, and when tackled, the ball was released to flanker Joe Adams who scored in the corner.
Kirk added the sideline conversion to have Waihora leading 20–10, a lead they never relinquished despite an all-out attack from Darfield in the dying minutes of the match as they went in search of their first-ever Coleman Shield title in the 112 years of the competition.
Ellesmere finals day results: Div 1: Waihora 20 v Darfield 10; Div 2: Banks Peninsula 24 v Southbridge-Leeston 10; Div 3: Hornby 48 v BDI 20; Colts: Waihora 25 v Springston 13; Under 18: Prebbleton 49 v Plains Utd 8; Under 16: West Melton 12 v Prebbleton-Rolleston 6; Under 14.5: West Melton 28 v Rolleston-Lincoln 36; Under 13a: Darfield 24 v Waihora 32; Under 13b: Leeston-Southbridge 52 v Lincoln 15.
Darfield lock Will Wright flies high to snare the line-out ball
Waihora halfback Harry Kirk unloads a pass during an attack
on the Darfield try line
Waihora winger Matt Saunders is cut down by Darfield captain Harry
Pankhurst just short of the try line
Waihora captain Ryan Koning is all smiles after getting his
hands on the Coleman Shield