Maheno claims Citizens Shield for 2019

Robbie Smith holds the Citizens Shield aloft after Maheno beat Old Boys 18-7 at Whitestone...
Robbie Smith holds the Citizens Shield aloft after Maheno beat Old Boys 18-7 at Whitestone Contracting Stadium on Saturday.PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN
Maheno took the Citizens Shield home to the little village south of Oamaru on Saturday.

Its 18-7 win at Whitestone Contracting Stadium netted its 12th title in 112 years of the shield's existence, and was its second in four years.

The win was no surprise to co-captains hooker Hayden Tisdall and halfback and goalkicker Robbie Smith.

"We knew we were close to it as we got into the competition," Smith said after the final whistle.

"The boys really began to click last month.

"We trained well, worked hard and this is the result of it all."

But looking back on 2019, Smith said the side's early form did not provide much hope for a Citizens Shield final, as injury and sickness caused Maheno to default on one occasion.

"At the start of the season we got knocked around with a few injuries, and coming into the last round we got everyone back together and full practices were the order of the day."

Expertise at the breakdown was one of Maheno's key advantages.

"It took a little time for the boys upfront to understand the importance [of that], but when they did it became a strong area of our rugby."

Old Boys fought back early in the final, and 16 minutes into the first half nifty first five-eighth Inoke Naufahu produced some of his magic running.

He touched down and converted.

But Maheno was patient.

The Old Boys front row was causing problems at scrum time as its props kept swapping sides, disrupting the Maheno scrum.

The patience from Maheno was rewarded 10 minutes from halftime.

It upset an Old Boys lineout and forced a scrum inside the Old Boys 22.

Maheno moved the ball wide to its right and centre Clement Gasea burst back against the Old Boys defence to score beside the posts, allowing Smith to tie it up at halftime.

Maheno looked confident after halftime, driving inside Old Boys 22 and outflanking the defence to put left wing Forrest Beer over for an unconverted try.

Seven minutes later Maheno forced a penalty and Smith slotted it to put his side into a 15-7 lead.

Fifteen minutes from fulltime, the Maheno pack in full flight outshoved the Old Boys eight, but Smith was just astray with his penalty.

But it was appropriate that Smith had the final say.

Play was stifled on halfway when Smith, from broken play, latched on to the ball, and a glance downfield saw space deep in Old Boys territory.

An astute punt ahead saw Smith scurry through to tackle the Old Boys defender and force a penalty - which he turned into three points, and the shield was off to the Maheno clubrooms.

The curtain-raiser was the Presidents grade final between Valley B and Kurow B, won 24-0 by the Valley team with tries to Jason Black, Scott Ruddle, Marc Fox and Tyler Simpson, with Fox adding two conversions.

The Kurow B side must have set a record for the number of reserves in a final, as coach David Sutton was able to start with the required 15, but with another 15 reserves on the bench.

 - Terry O'Neill

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