Double-overtime is usually a term used in Basketball, but, in the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final, Auckland and Canterbury put on an entertaining finale in front of a large crowd at Eden Park.
With the rain pelting down, the grand final of domestic rugby in New Zealand turned into a thrilling finale. Tied at 33-33 after 80 minutes, which required 10 minutes of overtime. With stout defence by each team, it took a blindside move to finally crack the Canterbury line, for Leon Fukofuka (see below) to break the hearts of ‘red and black’ fans.
That euphoria of victory can be seen in the faces of the victors. The defeat, obvious in the vanquished, and no matter if it is rugby union, basketball or water polo, that winning feeling is Magical to witness!
Double-Overtime in Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final a thrilling finale
The attached video shows the match highlights, with the below video a closer look at the final 20 minutes that concluded a game that stretched over 100 minutes. Epic; is the colloquialism, and it suits the outcome on this occasion.
With the final throw of the dice, Auckland broke the line, won the title and showed an incredible will to survive. It was one that few had thought possible, after a calamitous 2017. The return from the ruins of ‘almost being demoted’ to the Championship has now been repaired.
repaired in the ultimate fashion. Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final winners.
Pure entertainment for fans at Eden Park
When the gates were ‘swung open’ by the Eden Park Trust and Auckland Rugby, it was about the relationship with the fans. As a reward for the hardy, loyal fans of a team who had not reached a major final since 2009. It was a gesture of confidence, that the public would arrive, to cheer on their men wearing the famous ‘blue and white hoops’.
And it worked, with a large crowd of 21,000 witnessing a thrilling final. A finale which was a positive for all stakeholders…bar the Canterbury Rugby fans.
Yet, with rugby being the winner on the day, the flow-on results are hoped to affect the Auckland Blues, Super Rugby franchise.
Like the provincial side, the Blues have not appeared in the finals series since 2007, and if Auckland Rugby is strong, then the natural train of thought is that it will influence the franchise’s fortunes.
— Auckland Rugby (@AucklandRugby) October 27, 2018
Be that true, or false, at least on this one occasion the cheers of the crowd lasted for the entire match. The classic North v South encounter has revived the fortunes of the Auckland rugby fanbase.
Appearing in the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final might be the start of a continued era; with Alama Iremia and assistant [and mentor] Sir Graham Henry responsible for an improved outlook for the union.
Canterbury Rugby lose first away Final in last four attempts
Impressive as their record heading up to Eden Park was, it appeared that Canterbury were defeated by the ’emotional connection’ that Auckland had with the crowd. Commentators saying that it was a feeling not seen in the Queen City for possibly 15-20 years.
While the visitors got off to a successful start, they did not hold the ascendency in the same way they did last week against Tasman. In that match, Canterbury got on top of their neighboring union and turned the screws on them. Winning 16-21 in Nelson, it would have boosted the confidence of head coach Joe Maddock. And by rights of the unions proud away record, the side headed to Auckland feeling they could take away yet another NPC/Mitre 10 Cup prize.
However, once the rain changed the complexion of the game, a more up-front power game worked to the Auckland sides advantage. Akira Ioane powered over from a quick tap. It caused the visitors to halt, and from there, they were not able to completely adjust. Even while their defence stopped the home team over a mammoth 33 phases, from scoring in front of their red zone, they could not turn that into attack. And after 20 minutes of double-overtime, they relinquished the Mitre 10 Cup to Auckland.
— Stuff (@NZStuff) October 27, 2018
Joe Maddock maybe unphased in the above article, though the unbroken record is going to demonstrate to other unions, that the great Canterbury Rugby side can be beaten. And it will resonate into all the Super Rugby franchises – the power is now shared; with Blues partners North Harbour and Northland performing well in 2018.
Possibly – but there is no guarantee – the Blues will directly benefit from this result. The Chiefs too, with the recovery of Waikato, in promotion back to the Premiership in 2019. For the Highlanders, where Otago reached the Championship final. And for the Hurricanes, as the Lions reached the semifinal stages. All healthy results, for the contributing franchise partners.
So the exciting result on Saturday could also adjust the rankings within the strongest Super Rugby conference next year. Fans should expect positive change to the norm in 2019 – and that is the ultimate reward for New Zealand Rugby. Internal competition.
“Main photo credit”