Cantabs are back on track

Sunday News - - RUGBY - ROBERT VAN ROYEN

CAN­TER­BURY have got their Farah Palmer Cup cam­paign back on track with a 40-10 win against Manawatu in Christchurch.

Planted at the bot­tom of the premier­ship af­ter last week­end’s flog­ging at the hands of Auck­land, the red and blacks des­per­ately needed a bounce back per­for­mance.

Led by full­back Grace Brooker’s brace, that’s ex­actly what they did with a bonus-point win at Lin­field Park yes­ter­day.

Wing Me­lanie Puck­ett also dot­ted down in her first na­tional pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship match, while mid­fielder Lucy An­der­son and flanker Ni­cole Pur­dom ac­counted for the other tries.

First five-eighth Charn­tay Poko, who did a fine job steer­ing her team around the field, added 13 points (three penal­ties and two con­ver­sions) off the tee.

Plenty of credit must go to the home side’s for­ward pack, which set a plat­form not too dis­sim­i­lar from the one the Can­ter­bury men’s side has been lay­ing for its backs in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Manawatu’s for­wards must have all had a good taste of the Lin­field Park turf by the end of the game, hav­ing been re­peat­edly buried at scrum time.

It was a bru­tal dis­play from the red and blacks, who led 28-0 at half­time af­ter Puck­ett got on the end of a smart grub­ber kick by lock Estelle Uren to score out wide.

It fol­lowed An­der­son’s early try – the re­sult of a lovely set piece move – and Brooker’s sparkling 50m dash to the line.

Given Can­ter­bury spent all but a cou­ple of min­utes of the first half in­side the Cy­clone’s half, the half­time score prob­a­bly should have been uglier.

Can­ter­bury botched a num­ber of chances – in­clud­ing two through knock-ons within reach of the goal line – and will no doubt need to be much more clin­i­cal when they travel north to play de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Coun­ties Manukau, fresh from beat­ing Auck­land 36-12 yes­ter­day, next week­end.

The Wayne Love-coached Cantabri­ans were also sloppy in the sec­ond half, par­tic­u­larly with their dis­ci­pline, as the Cy­clones wasted lit­tle time get­ting on the board through cen­tre Janna Michal-Vaughan.

A rare botched li­ne­out throw then led to the vis­i­tors’ sec­ond try, an elec­tric run down the left­hand side by Black Ferns full­back Sel­ica Wini­ata.

But the home side, with­out star Black Ferns half­back Ken­dra Cocksedge (rested), wasn’t done scor­ing it­self. Brooker, who was full of run­ning from the back, com­bined with Puck­ett to dive over in­side the left-hand cor­ner flag, be­fore Pur­dom crashed over out wide in the clos­ing min­utes. Re­sults: Can­ter­bury 40 Manawatu 10, Coun­ties Manukau 36 Auck­land 12, Welling­ton 11 Waikato 5, Otago 39 Hawke’s Bay 17, Bay of Plenty 34 North Har­bour 12.

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