September 28, 1960
Auckland 19 Canterbury 18

"Under the posts, Waka, under the posts," Auckland's Wilson Whineray puffed.

Their grip on the shield had itself just about expired as Canterbury led 18-14 with a tick of the clock left.

And then the 20-year-old Waka Nathan, not yet an All Black, darted over after Auckland won a tighthead. Whineray's presence of mind and Nathan's instinct set him on the way to the posts to give Mike Cormack the easy conversion.


Nathan had already played a crucial part just minutes before the end by giving away a penalty in a match that see-sawed like this: Auckland 5-0, 8-0, 8-3, 11-3, 11-6, 11-9, 11-12, 14-12, 14-15, 14-18, 19-18.

Coach Fred Allen played his famously motivational part, telling his Auckland side before the game that the Cantabs had asked him if they could borrow the shield so they could get a photo with it in time for the morning paper in Christchurch. And long before video referees and walk-on touch judges, the crowd must have wondered why the great Kel Tremain was carted off before the game's end.

The legend goes that upstart Tremain had been giving Canterbury captain and generally fearsome bloke Tiny Hill a spot of bother in the lineouts. The gruff Hill warned: "If you do that again Kel, I'll have to hit you." Tremain didn't take a backward step: "Have a go, grandad."

The next lineout followed - and so, too, the stretcher for Tremain.

September 24, 1983
Canterbury 31 Auckland 9

They love this one in Christchurch. And anywhere else on the planet where there's a red and black heart beating. Especially if it's ticking away in Auckland.

Because this is the ultimate duffing, the day Auckland arrogance got its just deserts. It was their centenary year, and lifting the shield seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.

The party never got started. Andy Haden was seen as a key part to Auckland's hopes - as D.J. Cameron wrote in the Herald on the morning of the game: "Haden has the Canterbury lineout nicely worried, and if the wind is not too strong Auckland should profit from Glenn Rich's superior height at No. 6."

Auckland got cleaned out in the lineout 20-7 by fair means and foul in the five-tries-to-none tonking. As Cameron also wrote that morning: "Canterbury are the next best thing to a rugby machine." Some things never change.

September 14, 1985
Auckland 28 Canterbury 23

Here are the lineups:

Auckland: Lindsay Harris, John Kirwan, Joe Stanley, Terry Wright, Kurt Sherlock, Grant Fox, David Kirk, Glenn Rich, Mark Brooke-Cowden, Gary Whetton, Andy Haden (c), Alan Whetton, John Drake, Iain Abercrombie, Steve McDowell.

Canterbury: Robbie Deans, Dennis Woods, Victor Simpson, Craig Green, Warwick Taylor, Wayne Smith, Bruce Deans, Dale Atkins, Don Hayes (c), Albert Anderson, Andy Earl, Jock Hobbs, Chris Earl, John Buchan, Murray Davie.

Any why the names? You have to recognise that this is generally regarded as the match of the century.

Holders Canterbury are one game away from beating the 25-game record run for the shield set by Fred Allen's Auckland side of the early 1960s. What better way to stir up a Lancaster Park crowd? But those 52,000 mainly Mainlanders are in a state of shock at halftime as Auckland charge to a 24-0 lead.

What follows is 40 of the greatest minutes of shield footy as Canterbury claw their way back into the game. And unbelievably, they almost save it when, down 28-23 and time nearly gone, first five-eighth Wayne Smith hoists the ball high ... it bounces ... just out of the hands of flying wing Craig Green ... and a despairing Auckland hand slaps it away dead. It's breathless around the ground.