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South Island dominates as New Zealand's domestic competitions conclude

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allblacks.com and James Mortimer     27 Oct 2013     Getty Images

It is South Canterbury’s first competition title since 2001. In closing the curtain on New Zealand’s 2013 domestic rugby season, South Canterbury join Mid Canterbury (Meads Cup), Auckland (Women’s Provincial Championship), Tasman (ITM Cup Championship) and Canterbury (ITM Cup Premiership) on the official winners’ ledger.

Strong winds again played a big part in today's match, but in the end, the combination of South Canterbury’s superior forward pack and the boot of fullback Liam Edwards proved too much for the visitors.

New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle congratulated both teams on making the Final – a remarkable second consecutive Lochore Cup Final for Buller, and a third year running Finals berth for South Canterbury.

“I commend both teams on a hard-fought match - a very physical display of rugby. Congratulations to South Canterbury for coming away with the result in front of a home crowd today. Both teams can be proud of what they did out there today.”

In yesterday’s top tier Pink Batts Heartland Championship Final, Mid Canterbury held the Meads Cup aloft for the first time, and claimed their first championship title since 1998.

In the ITM Cup Premiership Final, Canterbury beat Wellington at Westpac Stadium to claim their sixth straight national provincial championship honours. Tasman have won promotion into next year’s ITM Cup Premiership after beating Hawke’s Bay in the ITM Cup Championship Final in Nelson on Friday. In the Women’s Provincial Championship Final yesterday, Auckland squeezed out a 20-10 win to deny Canterbury their first title.

Tasman win Championship

In a nail-biting last three minutes of play, the Tasman Makos held off a determined Hawke’s Bay attack to win the ITM Cup Championship Final 26 – 25 at Nelson’s Trafalgar Park.

The Makos have claimed their first national provincial title prize since Nelson Bay’s Division Two win over the Magpies in 2004, and in the process, earned promotion into next year’s Premiership.

Next year, the Makos will take the spot vacated by the Bay of Plenty Steamers, relegated to the 2014 ITM Cup Championship, after coming last in the Premiership.

New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle congratulated Tasman on their historic ITM Cup win – their first national provincial competition prize as a province after the 2005 merger of the Nelson Bays and Marlborough Rugby Unions.

“I congratulate both teams on an exceptional spectacle in tonight’s Final. Both teams put on a thrilling Final this evening – an excellent finale to the Championship.

“I know Hawke’s Bay will be disappointed to miss out on promotion, but they can be proud of their season.”

Mid Canterbury create history

Mid Canterbury have claimed the Meads Cup and title honours in the 2013 Pink Batts Heartland Championship after beating North Otago 26 – 20 in testing gale force winds at Ashburton’s Showgrounds.

It is Mid Canterbury’s first piece of national provincial rugby silverware.

Both teams were tested by the huge winds of over 80 km/hour but both displayed great ball handling skills as they ran the ball around at both ends of the field.

The match was noteable for a couple of bizarre wind-captured kicks: A Mid Canterbury first five eighth Murray Williams’ penalty that sailed 62 metres, low, straight, and just over the crossbar; and an incredible North Otago restart that blew the ball back behind their own line.

New Zealand Rugby chairman Mike Eagle congratulated both teams on an outstanding display of rugby.

“Congratulations to both teams on making the Final, but a special congratulations to Mid Canterbury who have waited a long time for this prize.

“That was a great Final with some incredibly good ball handling skills given the conditions they were playing in – there will be some tired bodies out there for sure. They were very physical and gave the Ashburton crowd a great afternoon of rugby.”

Six in a row for the red and blacks

A dominant second half performance at a windswept Westpac Stadium provided the edge for Canterbury as they outplayed the Wellington Lions 29-13 to be crowned 2013 ITM Cup Premiership champions.

It is Canterbury's sixth consecutive title; an achievement unmatched by any other provincial team.

Wellington went into the half-time break confident, leading 10-7 however exemplary defence from Canterbury, sustained attack and the ability to take advantage of Wellington's errors ensured the tables were turned in the second half.

New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle congratulated both teams on a fitting finale to a compelling competition.

"Canterbury and Wellington competed well all season, providing great, entertaining rugby and tonight was no different. Congratulations to both teams for making the final.

"In the end it came down to a great second half performance from Canterbury, aided by a wealth of experience in the side and great defence, that ensures the ITM Cup stays In Christchurch for a record sixth year. Well done to Scott Robertson and the Canterbury side on their historic win.

"The conditions certainly weren't easy for either team but the sizable Wellington crowd witnessed a great sporting contest between two sides who certainly gave it their all."