Mid Canterbury defended the Meads Cup to defend their Pink Batts Heartland championship title by beating Buller 36-13 in Westport on Saturday.
The home team had been unbeaten during roundrobin play but the Mid Canterbury side maintained their strong finish to the competition to claim the win.
Coach Glenn Moore, who is due to take an appointment in the Blues coaching structure in Super Rugby next year, said the win was a reflection of the work the players had put in since he was asked back to coach the side last year.
“It was right up there,” he told Radio Live. “In your career there are a lot of special moments but this was special as a result of what happened last year when the boys buttoned down and focused on winning.
“We were seventh in the middle stages of the competition and had to win four with bonus points but the boys showed their character to come through,” he said.
They had done some analysis of the Buller side and identified areas in behind their backline that might be worth probing.
“We saw that if we executed things well we could get in behind them. We kicked through and scored twice so we got our tactics right,” he said.
A central part of the team’s success was their fitness and that was a desire to be the fittest team in the competition.
“We’re not the biggest team and we try to move our opponents around. Fitness, skill and tactics have been the key components for us,” he said.
Moore congratulated the Buller team for the way they had galvanised the public in their region and had played so well during the year.
Buller 13 (Jerome Vaai try; James Lash con, 2 pen)
Mid Canterbury 38 (Setariki Koroitamana 2, Peni Manumanuniliwa, Brenton Connell tries; Murray Williams 2 con, 4 pen).
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