Mid Canterbury has won the Lochore Cup rugby final despite being forced to play most of the match with 14 men.
The Mid Canterbury Hammers beat West Coast 47-15 in Methven on Sunday despite losing fullback Maleli Sau when he was red carded for a dangerous, high tackle in the third minute.
In a reflex action, Sau caught Logan Heath around the chin, dropping the West Coast midfielder to the ground when he seemed set to score.
West Coast went ahead 10-0 with an early penalty goal and a subsequent penalty try awarded.
Mid Canterbury were down to 13 men for a spell after skipper Jackson Donlan was sinbinned for a deliberate knock-down in conceding the penalty try.
But Thomas Hanham-Carter crossed for the Hammers in the seventh minute for the first of six tries by the home side.
Jared Percival, in pinpoint goal-kicking form all season, converted four tries and added two penalties and a dropped goal.
West Coast – missing former All Blacks hooker Corey Flynn, who was playing for a World XV against Japan, managed a second try, to lock Isei Lewaqai late in the first half.
Mid Canterbury led 28-15 at halftime after a late flurry of Percival points.
West Coast never threw in the towel, despite being down to 14 men themselves for the final eight minutes after wing Regan Stanton’s yellow card.
But the visitors – in their second Heartland final – could not cross the Hammers’ line in the second spell.
Mid Canterbury, making the most of brilliantly fine conditions in Methven, scored three times in the final quarter to seal their first Lochore Cup victory in the Heartland Championships’ second tier after two Meads Cup top tier titles.
The game was played at Methven because Mid Canterbury’s traditional home ground, Ashburton Showgrounds, was unavailable due to a date clash with the Ashburton A and P Show.
Mid Canterbury 47 v 15 West Coast
Mid Canterbury Scorers:
Tries: Thomas Hanham-Carter (7′), Christian Vainerere (15′),Willie McGoon (25′), Seta Koroitamana (66′,70′), Dan Fransen (80′)
Conversion: Jarred Percival (16′,27′,71′,80′)
Penalty: Jarred Percival (23′,39′)
Drop Goals: Jarred Percival (40′)
Yellow Card: Jackson Donlan (4′)
Red Card: Maleli Sau (3′)
West Coast Scorers:
Tries: Penalty Try (4′), Isei Lewaqai (32′)
Penalty: Tom Reekie (1′)
Yellow Card: Regan Stanton (72′)