Cantabs are back on track
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.