A scrappy contest ended in controversy and confusion as the NPC resumed in Hamilton on Friday night, with Canterbury clinging to a 20-19 win over Waikato.
In a match where the gameplay was mediocre, it wasn't without intrigue, particularly in the final moments as a late try to Tepaea Cook-Savage gave Waikato first five-eighth Fletcher Smith a conversion about 5m from the sideline to win the game.
As Smith was setting to take his shot at goal, the Canterbury defence rushed forward despite the Waikato No 10 not appearing to have begun his kick motion. His initial attempt missed, but given the early rush from the Canterbury defence, Smith was adamant he should get another shot.
However, it was judged that a single side step Smith made in his kicking motion after, and before, standing stationary was enough to be considered in his kicking motion and he was not given another shot at goal to the dismay of the Waikato side and the delight of the Cantabrians.
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It was a strange end to a strange game in which Canterbury spent the majority the time defending the Waikato attack, then pinching tries on counter attacks.
Winger Waisake Naholo was the first to cross the stripe with Canterbury's first real attacking opportunity of the game after a sustained period of pressure from Waikato. With the try unconverted, Waikato did hold a slim lead at the break as Samipeni Finau scored under the posts on the halftime hooter, with Smith slotting the conversion.
Canterbury again went in front not long after the break when No 8 Henry Stowers showed some speed and footwork to get across the line, but when Sam Cooper hit back for Waikato, it appeared the hosts were finally going to capitalise on the pressure they had built.
However, late handling errors ruined their momentum and gifted a try to Canterbury No 10 Fergus Burke, who scooped up a loose ball and won the race to the tryline. His missed conversion kept the door open for Waikato, who hit back with the last play of the game through Cook-Savage to give Smith a chance to steal the win from the tee.
His kick was unsuccessful, and Canterbury took the points.