Wellington complete NPC title and Ranfurly Shield double

GettyImages 1435512166

Since that final, Wellington had returned home empty-handed from six finals, but on the night there was no denying their right to lock the championship away for the summer alongside the Ranfurly Shield.

They hounded Canterbury throughout, catching them behind the advantage line, and then as the level of desperation rose in the home team's ranks, Wellington closed their defence even more.

Then, just to make their confidence evident, they over-powered the Canterbury scrum with around 10 minutes remaining and got back into their 22m area with a scrum feed.

Wellington also took on the Canterbury lineout, and at key moments upset them by claiming ball.

No8 Peter Lakai, blindside flanker Caleb Delany and skipper and energy bunny Du'Plessis Kirifi were relentless in committing Canterbury to defence, punishing them with long, strength-sapping phases that had their effect.

Lock Dominic Bird applied the power in the tight exchanges while overseeing the distribution was the experience provided by halfback TJ Perenara.

Canterbury ensured a thrilling finish when they scored after a kick through to the in-goal area by fullback Chay Fihaki. He was taken without the ball, but replacement wing Ngatungane Punivai chased hard and secured the ball to score.

Wellington were reduced to 14 when the Fihaki's offender, replacement halfback Richard Judd was sin-binned.

But Wellington gained a penalty in front of the posts and fullback Ruben Love landed the goal that put Wellington beyond the seven-point margin.

Fifteen minutes into the game, Wellington on their own 22m line, won a Canterbury lineout from blindside flanker Caleb Delany, whose high-powered effort for 60 minutes could have boosted the national grid.

Hooker Asafo Aumua tidied the ball and when first five-eighths Jackson Garden-Bachop fed Kirifi into a half gap, his speed and power on the fend opened it up. He ran on and drew the defence before giving Love the ball for the easiest of runs to the line.

That woke Canterbury up and after creating two chances, one from a kick ahead by centre Dallas McLeod and the other from a break by hooker Brodie McAlister, they moved the ball for Fihaki to take a difficult pass, control it, and feed wing Manasa Mataele in at the corner.

Five minutes before halftime, Wellington came charging back. They worked their way into Canterbury's 22m area with lock James Blackwell breaking the defensive line. Love, Delany and hard-running Lakai carried hard through a 10-phase play that saw Aumua go through the middle of a goal-mouth ruck to regain the lead for Wellington with a try.

Canterbury came out firing at the start of the second half, but Wellington turned back their forays and it was Garden-Bachop who landed two penalty goals to take them out to a 23-13 lead.

Both sides threw bodies into attempting breakthroughs and it became a case of who would break first. Canterbury introduced veteran lock Luke Romano, and he was quickly employed barrelling into the defence. However, Wellington were unbending.

Canterbury spent most of the second half in their own territory and Wellington's defence denied them time after time, to maintain the adage that defence wins championships.

Canterbury 18 (Manasa Mataele, Ngatungane Punivai tries; Fergus Burke con, 2 pen) Wellington 26 (Ruben Love, Asafo Aumua tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con, 3 pen; Love pen). HT: 13-17