Chas­tened Can­ter­bury re­dis­cover win­ning ways

Sunday News - - RUGBY - CLAY WILSON

THE smile on the face of Can­ter­bury cap­tain Tim Bate­man said it all. Or­der had been re­stored.

Can­ter­bury erased an 11-point half­time deficit for a 41-28 win in a top-of-the-ta­ble en­counter against their North Har­bour hosts at QBE Sta­dium yes­ter­day.

The de­fend­ing Mitre 10 Cup Pre­mier­ship cham­pi­ons had been thumped in a shock­ing 46-point loss to Welling­ton last week,.

But it was no sur­prise New Zealand pro­vin­cial rugby’s most dom­i­nant team of the past decade was des­per­ate to stave off an­other de­feat and in a classy sec­ond-half show­ing it was sim­ply too slick.

Can­ter­bury scored four tries af­ter the break to even­tu­ally can­ter to vic­tory, en­sur­ing they re­turned to their fa­mil­iar win­ning ways and re­tained their spot at the head of the Pre­mier­ship stand­ings.

Bate­man said it had been im­mensely sat­is­fy­ing to re­spond to not only their 60-14 drub­bing by Welling­ton, but also a lack­lus­tre first half dis­play.

‘‘Yeah, it was, ac­tu­ally. Har­bour are a re­ally strong side and we knew it was go­ing to be a real fight com­ing up here.

‘‘We al­ways strug­gle against Har­bour, too, they’re one of those sides who are dif­fi­cult to play when they get rolling.

‘‘We played with a pretty strong wind in the first half and were down 11 points so we weren’t MITRE 10 CUP that happy go­ing into the sheds but to see the way we bounced back was pretty cool.’’

Fea­tur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion’s best of­fload­ing sides, the match promised plenty of ex­cite­ment.

And, much to the plea­sure of most of the 4121 in at­ten­dance, it was Har­bour who ex­e­cuted more ef­fec­tively in an open and en­ter­tain­ing open­ing 40 min­utes.

Just three min­utes had ex­pired when the hosts cap­i­talised on a failed Can­ter­bury at­tack, go­ing 80 me­tres as lock Bran­don Nansen made the ini­tial charge be­fore Bryn Gat­land put wing Matt Duffie away for an early 7-0 lead.

The first of at least two scram­bling try-sav­ing ef­forts from the Har­bour de­fence fol­lowed when Richie Mo’unga was dragged down just a few me­tres short.

But the Can­ter­bury first fiveeighth opened that same de­fence up again just a few min­utes later and this time he wasn’t de­nied, sell­ing an ex­pert dummy and slic­ing through be­fore adding the ex­tras to level the scores.

Har­bour im­me­di­ately hit back through Ger­ard Cow­ley-Tui­oti, the ris­ing Blues lock barg­ing over from close range af­ter a pow­er­ful bust off the back of a scrum from No 8 Ha­pakuki Moala-Li­avaa and more last-ditch de­fence de­nied Can­ter­bury mid­fielder Rob Thomp­son on the half-hour mark.

Can­ter­bury did re­duce the mar­gin through a Mo’unga penalty but the home team quickly re­sponded yet again, young Chiefs out­side back Shaun Steven­son launch­ing a counter-at­tack to put Ben Volavola away, with sec­ond­five Har­ri­son Ground­wa­ter crash­ing over two passes later.

How­ever, the visi­tors im­me­di­ately proved their des­per­a­tion in the sec­ond spell, dot­ting down twice within five min­utes of the restart.

Matt Duffie launches an at­tack for North Har­bour against Can­ter­bury at Al­bany yes­ter­day.

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