Rugby honours are synonymous with the Canterbury area.

Their provincial heroes added another inscription on the record board when they overturned the result of their round-robin match against Waikato to claim their third successive national provincial crown.

In the past two years, Canterbury had beaten Wellington for the title and last night they repelled the Mooloo Men who were searching for just a third title since the competition was reshaped in 1992.

It was a decent slugfest, a courageous contest from two teams who both endured sustained periods when they were under pressure, yet bounced back to conjure up an absorbing confrontation.

On balance, Canterbury had a shade more clout and variety but Waikato's endurance was huge, their spirit unbending.

The statistics suggested the visitors were rarely in the match but when the final went into the last quarter they were only three points adrift, after wing Henry Speight scored from a forward rumble and a neat shift from replacement halfback Brendon Leonard.

But Leonard's impact was countered as his clearing kick was charged down for Matt Todd to convert a favourable bounce.

Relief around the stadium was widespread. Canterbury had claimed a vital break and when Colin Slade ran back a hopeful Waikato chipkick from halfway, his converted try sealed the deal.

From departing prop Peter Borlase to All Black reject lock Isaac Ross, perpetual-motion Nasi Manu and Todd, the Canterbury forwards held up after being battered by Waikato a month ago.

Slade was able to adjust the tempo with all the possession and his backline colleagues were a strong collective unit.

Attacking stars like centre Robbie Fruean and fullback Sean Maitland got few chances though wings Tu Umaga-Marshall and Telusa Veainu delivered repeated danger.

The weather was not kind for the sides' repeat duel. It rained for much of the day in Christchurch and while it eased during the match, the surface was slippery and there was an evil wind circulating the arena.

A fortnight ago, Canterbury could not find the tryline when the sides met in Hamilton.

Back on their own dungheap, they took just over two minutes to open up Waikato when television match official Nick Briant agreed Umaga-Marshall had scored.

After barrowloads of ball, Fruean chip-kicked the defence and with three teammates following, put huge pressure on Alex Bradley who was the lone defender. In the slippery conditions, the Waikato No 8 failed to control the ball and Umaga-Marshall claimed the try just before the ball slid over the deadball line. But the wing's pleasure was dampened when the television match official agreed he had fouled defender Speight as Ryan Crotty claimed the try.

The fourth official then could not see any clear evidence Canterbury lock Ross had been driven across the line either and referee Jonathon White had to rule that claim out as well.

At this stage, Canterbury were in command, but becoming frustrated by the officials' rulings. Some of those feelings were overturned just before the break when Crotty got his try, after an ill-conceived kick from Tawera Kerr-Barlow rebounded 40 metres to give Canterbury a precious lead at the break.

They had conceded a try to Toby Smith who rumbled over close to a maul. But into the wind, Canterbury had a great deal more possession and used that to keep Waikato pinned down in their territory. It was a marvellous effort against an awkward breeze and a platform for them to push on towards their success.

Canterbury 33: T Umaga-Marshall, R Crotty, M Todd, C Slade, tries; C Slade 2 pen, 2 con, S Brett pen.

Waikato 13: T Smith, H Speight, tries; T Renata pen.