Meek Wellington loses Ranfurly Shield

Getty Images     30 Aug 2009     Getty Images

The Lions didn't fire a shot as Canterbury, under the guidance of first five-eighths Dan Carter, ran rampant.

The challengers dominated possession, pinned Wellington in its own half and had the better of the set-piece exchanges putting the home side under pressure in the scrums and seeming able to steal lineout ball at will.

It was a disappointing end to Wellington's shield tenure and even having All Blacks Rodney So'oialo, Ma'a Nonu and Cory Jane could not seem to galvanise the team.

Lions skipper Jacob Ellison had a torrid night too, penalised by referee Keith Brown repeatedly for pulling down the scrums, much to the loosehead prop's frustration.

Canterbury's All Blacks - Carter, Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn and Wyatt Crockett – were in the thick of the action all night.

McCaw impressed in the unfamiliar role of No.8, linking well with his backs and enjoying the chance to have a run with ball – as did Thorn – although the All Blacks skipper was still a dominating presence at the breakdown.

Canterbury started strongly and it was rewarded for its dominance with two penalties for Dan Carter.

The first came after Ma'a Nonu caught Tyson Keats in a high tackle and the second in the 11th minute when Rodney So'oialo came in at the side of a ruck on his goal-line after McCaw, surprisingly in his first Shield challenge, was stopped just short of the line.

More Wellington ill-discipline - Daniel Ramsay coming it at the side – handed Carter another shot at goal which he duly slotted for a 9-0 lead with 16 minutes gone.

Fili then missed a penalty attempt when Wyatt Crockett was called for obstruction.

From the re-start Canterbury was on the attack again and when Wellington opted to try and run itself out of danger from its own goal line David Smith was swamped by the opposition and George Whitelock ripped the ball free to ground it for the game's opening try.

Carter added the conversion then Fa'atonu Fili and Carter traded penalties misses before the All Blacks pivot stepped up to the plate again when Lions captain Jacob Ellison was penalised for pulling down the scrum.

Wellington lost lock Jeremy Thrush, who hurt his arm in the opening minutes of the game and was substituted for Mark Reddish five minutes before half-time.

There was however still enough time for Canterbury to cross the whitewash again, Tim Bateman diving over from a set-piece move, and Carter's conversion made it 26-0 at the break.

That became 29-0 when Carter banged over his fifth penalty and the visitors heaped further misery on the home side with their third try on the hour.

Bateman was stopped just short of the line after another move off a scrum and Flynn, who had been on the field for only a matter of minutes, burrowed his way over.

Carter's conversion was his final act as he, Thorn and Ryan Crotty made way for Stephen Brett, Matt Todd and Adam Whitelock shortly afterwards.

Wellington then suddenly burst into life with six minutes remaining scoring two tries in as many minutes.

First Hosea Gear pounced to score after some nice work between David Smith, Nonu and Jane – who was in the move twice and kicked the ball ahead for the left wing to force down.

Then Nonu himself ran in under the posts after a superb burst of speed from lock Daniel Ramsay. Fili converted both as the Lions finally salvaged some pride.


Canterbury 36 (George Whitelock, Tim Bateman, Sean Flynn tries; Dan Carter 3 con, 5 pen) Wellington 14 (Hosea Gear, Ma'a Nonu tries; Fa'atonu Fili 2 con). HT: 26-0