Canterbury won their fourth successive NPC title, when they beat Waikato 12-3 in the first-ever tryless Final at the Waikato Stadium, in Hamilton, on Saturday.
While Tom Taylor proved the man for the moment for Canterbury, there was a sour aftertaste to this intriguing arm-wrestle - with incidents of headbutting and eye-gouging midway through the second half detracting just a little of the celebration from what was a special moment for the people of Canterbury.
As frustrations started to boil over, Romana Graham head-butted Ryan Crotty, who then appeared to stick his fingers into Graham's eyes.
Neither incident was picked up by the match officials, but having been replayed repeatedly on television, it is sure to attract some attention from the citing commissioner.
Those spiteful moments aside, Canterbury retained the national provincial title to give something back to the earthquake ravaged people of the region on New Zealand's South Island.
It was the 21-year-old Taylor, who came on early in the first half after starting flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal was forced from the field with an injury, having missed a relatively easy penalty goal, who gave the visitors enough reasons to celebrate.
Taylor stepped as if primed for the occasion and landed penalty goals in the 24th, 33rd, 38th and 76th minutes for a 100 percent record for the side.
He also marshalled the backline defence which as with the Waikato combination proved unyielding.
This was a true final, it wasn't always pretty. In fact, it was hardly ever pretty. It was dogged stuff, reflective of the type of campaign it had been for all teams, but especially for the finalists who had one extra week of it all.
Waikato opened the scoring, when discarded All Black Stephen Donald was caught high by Wyatt Crockett.
From the resulting penalty Donald slotted the easy kick for a 3-0 lead after just 10 minutes.
That was to be the home team's only score of the match - not that they didn't have other chances. They simply failed to convert them in the face of some dogged Canterbury defence.
Canterbury's first points came after George Whitelock was hit in mid-air, with Taylor stepping up to level the scores.
The next penalty, which Taylor slotted, came after Waikato were penalised for binding at a scrum.
Canterbury went looking for more reward for their dominance in terms of territory and possession and they got it just a couple of minutes, later with Taylor's third penalty - cementing their lead shortly before the break.
And Taylor sealed the deal with the only score of the second half, a penalty that took Canterbury outside the converted try distance.
Pens: Taylor 4
Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Sam Christie, 11 Tim Mikkelson, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Nathan White, 2 Marcel Cummings-Toone, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vance Elliott, 17 Ben May, 18 Matt Vant Leven, 19 Zak Hohneck, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 22 Declan O'Donnell, 23 Ted Tauroa.
Canterbury: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Ash Parker, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Paul Ngauamo, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Katene, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Takerei Norton, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Johnny McNicholl, 23 Andrew Olorenshaw.
Referee: Garratt Williamson
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri
TMO: Chris Morgan
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