Anderson’s last-gasp try gives Wai-Bush victory over Canterbury

RUGBY

WAIRARAPA-BUSH 28
CANTERBURY 26

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

It was the stuff of dreams. A last-play try after the final hooter by replacement halfback Bunter Anderson gave an All-Time Wairarapa-Bush XV victory in the ‘Virtual 1985 NPC championship final’.

Wai-Bush led Canterbury 23-19 going into the last 15 minutes in the final played at Lancaster Park on Saturday, but a brilliant solo try to centre Victor Simpson under the crossbar helped the home side take a 26-23 lead.

That looked enough to secure a home town victory but the green and reds never gave up and attacked from deep in their own half.

Anderson, who had created problems with his sniping runs around the fringes after replacing injured captain Bernie Lett late in the first half, saw a gap from a ruck close to the line and darted across for the winning try.

Wai-Bush struggled with only 36 per cent possession and 24 per cent territory in the first half and were lucky to be trailing by only 13-19 at halftime.

Former Wai-Bush utility forward Andy Earl made his old province pay early on, scoring the opening try after 10 minutes.

Wai-Bush equalised shortly afterwards when first-five Phil Rutene crossed after a scything 40m run from second-five Marty Berry.

Tries to hooker John Buchan and wing Craig Green took Canterbury’s lead out to 19-7 before Mark Benton kicked two long range penalties and narrowed the gap to six points at halftime.

Wai-Bush hit the lead four minutes after the restart when replacement flanker Mike Fleming, on for the injured Carlos Baker, scored handy to the posts.

Another Benton penalty extended the lead to 23-19 after 54 minutes before Simpson’s magic looked to seal the trophy for the red and blacks – only for Eketahuna’s favourite son, Anderson, to spoil the party.

SCORES

Wairarapa-Bush 28 [Phil Rutene, Mike Fleming, Bunter Anderson tries, Mark Benton 3 pen, 2 con] Canterbury 26 [Andy Earl, John Buchan, Craig Green, Victor Simpson tries, Rod Latham 3 con]. Halftime: 13-19