Not everyone likes Canterbury. Fact. Most Cantabrians don't really care. Also fact.
But even the most scathing of non-supporters must have realised tonight that the Canterbury which walked off AMI Stadium as national champions for the fifth year running after beating old foe Auckland 31 -18 is one of the best provincial rugby sides they will ever see.
Never before has there been such domination on the national stage for such an extended period of time - Auckland have gone close.
They've managed four consecutive titles twice. But the fifth eluded them on both occasions.
They tried hard to break the Canterbury drive for five tonight.
And for the first 40 minutes they were arguably the better team and just how Canterbury managed to be in front at the end of that half is beyond belief.
Auckland had scored first through Hadleigh Parkes in the opening minutes of the game and it looked like it was going to be a long night in for the 12,000 fans in the crowd.
They looked in control, and willing to play Canterbury at their own expansive game and for the majority of the first stanza it worked.
The cause wasn't helped when Telusa Veainu was given ten minutes in the bin by the man in charge Glenn Jackson.
He ruled that Veainu had deliberately knocked a ball forward to save a certain try when replays showed it to look more like an attempted intercept.
But as they have done all season, when given a chance Canterbury tend to deliver.
It was their own version of Mister T, Robbie Fruean, who started the ball rolling with a no look pass to Tom Taylor who crashed over to score.
Fruean was devastating throughout the match and his combination with an equally as dangerous Ryan Crotty makes them easily one of the best mid field combinations in New Zealand.
Taylor's try was to be the first five points of a 23 point haul which included a late try in the first half which put his side in front heading into the break 15-13.
Like he has all season, Taylor was again a vital cog.
He plays with confidence which exceeds his years and looks set to follow in the same footsteps as his father Warwick and be called up to high honours sometime in the near future.
Playing at fullback Taylor added more points early in the second as Canterbury took control with Auckland the side who were now struggling to get out of their own half.
A Tyler Bleyendaal drop goal stuck a dagger through the hearts and when Telusa Veainu scored in the corner the balloon was well and truly burst.
Auckland to their credit never gave the game up and were rewarded with a try on the final whistle to Lolagi Visinia.
But the night belonged to Canterbury - and most importantly legendary captain George Whitelock who is the only player to have been a part of all five of the consecutive finals.
Apart from losses to Tasman and Taranaki the Canterbury season has been near perfect.
In fact you would almost give it a five out of five.
- © Fairfax NZ News