Waikato slips to rock bottom
Canterbury showed Waikato how to takes chances with clinical execution when defending the Ranfurly Shield in Christchurch.
A 17-37 defeat at AMI Stadium means the Mooloos have kissed goodbye to the finals for a sixth straight season and switched to survival mode in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Waikato have slumped to rock bottom and trail Auckland and Counties Manukau, who are fifth and sixth respectively, by three points in the premiership standings with two rounds to play.
Saturday’s shield challenge in Canterbury was the last genuine hope of something to smile about during another poor campaign, but this latest loss is Waikato’s fifth on the trot.
Waikato will be happy to see the back of September after not registering any competition points since losing 31-29 to Tasman on September 3.
The Mooloos battled away and dominated possession and territory but Canterbury’s four tries typified their ruthless streak as perennial kings of provincial rugby.
Canterbury winger Braydon Ennor pounced on Sam Christie’s awful pass in the 22nd minute to score under the posts and get the ball rolling after Waikato had started brightly.
It was 30-0 in a flash as Richie Mo’unga added two penalties before Rob Thompson and Josh McKay finished off two more outstanding Canterbury attacks and the log looked lost.
Waikato were stung by sucker punches after failing to convert pressure into points and Canterbury’s devastating counter attacks made them pay.
The Mooloos won the second half after Pita Ahki opened their account just before the break and they frustrated Canterbury after Tom Sanders’ try put them 37-5 ahead after 46 minutes.
Sevu Reece then grabbed a of brace of tries but Canterbury, who scored all their points within 24 minutes either side of halftime, were never in danger of losing.
‘‘We put in a heck of a lot of effort and I’m proud of the way the boys won the second half,’’ Waikato coach Sean Botherway said.
‘‘But what cost us was making those errors, not being clinical and presenting the opposition with counter attack opportunities. Canterbury took their [chances] and that proved the difference.’’
Canterbury loosie Tom Sanders charging at Waikato’s line.