Rugby: Mid Canterbury claim Hanan Shield

By Jonathan Leask of the Ashburton Guardian

Mid Canterbury 7
North Otago 3

Mid Canterbury held on for a hard-fought 7-3 win over North Otago and lifted the Hanan Shield in the process in the third round match of the Heartland Rugby Championship in Ashburton today.

A strong north-westerly wind made going tough and an early first-half try proved enough for Mid Canterbury to get their first win but it was their defence that earned the four points. North Otago, though, will be kicking themselves for not kicking their goals.

Mid Canterbury produced a well-worked backline move to put centre Misi Salave on the outside of his man to run in for the try and Andrew Letham landed the conversion from out wide to put the Hammers ahead 7-0 early in the first half.

Despite the strong wind at their backs, Mid Canterbury were forced to defend for much of the first half and went to the break 7-0 ahead.

North Otago ran it from everywhere and camped in the Hammers 22 but were unable to get on the scoreboard, and their inability to kick their goals proved costly.

North Otago completely dominated territory in the second spell but Mid Canterbury's defence continually proved up to the task.

North Otago finally opted for a shot at goal midway through the second half but the wind blew Billy Guyton's kick wide. Shortly after, Tai Aholeleii stepped up for the second shot and put North Otago on the board in the 65th minute.

Aholeleii missed a second attempt and Guyton came back for another go but was again thwarted and the Mid Canterbury defence continued to deny the visitors, holding out for the win.

Mid Canterbury 7 (Misi Salave try, Andrew Letham con) North Otago 3 (Tai Aholeleii pen). HT: 7-0.

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