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Canterbury gave the restricted crowd at Rugby Park more reasons to cheer in its Ranfurly Shield defence against North Otago yesterday, but the loudest support was for the Old Golds when Josh Hayward crossed the line for his side’s only try.
The decibel levels were raised by a small group of members of the North Otago Rugby Supporters Club who had travelled to Christchurch for the match, not even knowing if they were going to be able to attend.
The game was played without a crowd, due to Alert Level 2 restrictions, but the supporters club had been prepared to "camp outside to peek through the fence with our radio on or Sky Go app playing the match, or haul up in a country hotel somewhere", president Ralph Davies said.
They ended up being let in as part of the North Otago Rugby bubble and made the most of the occasion, lending their brand of vocal support to the game.
"It’s about respecting the Shield," Davies said.
"It would be easy enough to stay home but we don't get Ranfurly Shield challenges every year.
The supporters club normally makes at least one away trip each year during the Heartland Championship, travelling as far as Ruatoria and Thames.
"It's about grassroots rugby, some mates having fun together, being part of the community," Davies said.
"We are one of the smallest unions in the country but that doesn't mean we cant have one of the loudest voices."
Hayward, a former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil, was happy to get his name on the scoreboard.
"I really just wanted to get a try and put some points on the board," Hayward said.
"The opportunity came to me so I stretched out and got it. It was an awesome feeling in a Ranfurly Shield challenge."
The improved showing by the Old Golds in the second half was down to spreading the defensive line wider, he said.
"The speed and the physicality together was really tough to handle, but other than that it was pretty good.
"They only really got us on the outside in the first half."