FLASHBACK FRIDAY: WEST COAST MARK JUBILEE WITH CANTERBURY UPSET
In honour of this weekend’s Thacker Shield clash between Canterbury Rugby League premiers Linwood Keas and the West Coast Chargers at Wingham Park, Flashback Friday marks 30 years since a memorable encounter between archrivals Canterbury and West Coast at the same venue.
West Coast Rugby League celebrated its 75th jubilee in 1989, and the representative side played its first match of the season against Canterbury at Wingham Park, pulling off a 20-14 upset in a typically rugged encounter.
Frank Endacott was in his first season as coach of a new-look Canterbury outfit (of the 32 players used by the red-and-blacks in ’89, 15 made their debut for the province) which included a host of young future Kiwis, such as Logan Edwards, Mike Dorreen, Whetu Taewa, Mark Nixon and Terry Hermansson.
West Coast notched a stirring four-tries-two victory, with captain Brent Stuart – who joined Canterbury the following season and played the first of 13 Tests for New Zealand in 1992 – the standout performer.
West Coast ultimately went unbeaten through its landmark season, downing Otago, Canterbury Emerging Players, Bay of Plenty and Southland. Canterbury endured a tough campaign, with a pair of wins over Bay of Plenty offset by two heavy losses to Auckland and two tight defeats at the hands of Wellington – but Endacott was sowing the seeds for the overwhelming success the province would enjoy during the early-1990s.
West Coast 20 (Murray Brown, Troy Forsyth, Brent Stuart, David Stuart tries; Phillip Campbell, Craig Mahuika goals) defeated Canterbury 14 (John Green, Carl Hall tries; Paul Dunn 3 goals) at Wingham Park, Greymouth, April 30, 1989.