Classy Cantabs de­fend Shield

Sunday News - - RUGBY - ROBERT VAN ROYEN

SIX Ran­furly Shield de­fences down, one to go.

Can­ter­bury dis­patched Waikato 37-17 at AMI Sta­dium in Christchurch last night, mov­ing them a step closer to lock­ing up the Log o’ Wood for the sum­mer.

Premier­ship con­tenders Taranaki will get a crack at wrestling it from them on Friday night, in a match which will also carry play­off im­pli­ca­tions.

The red and blacks’ sixth de­fence this year – and sev­enth since tak­ing the Shield from Waikato last year – was prac­ti­cally in the bag at half­time.

Waikato will lament the fi­nal 10 min­utes of the first half, when Can­ter­bury turned a 13-0 lead into a 30-5 buf­fer at the break.

High­lighted by Richie Mo’unga’s spot-on cross-field kick to rookie wing Josh McKay, the pas­sage of play doomed the vis­i­tors, whose fifth con­sec­u­tive loss buried their al­ready ane­mic play­off hopes.

To make mat­ters worse for the Mooloo men, a Coun­ties Manukau win over North­land to­day will en­sure they slip into the premier­ship’s rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Last night’s Shield de­fence wasn’t near as ugly as Can­ter­bury’s 78-5 and 78-20 de­fences against Coun­ties and South­land re­spec­tively, but it was far from a clas­sic.

Any fear Can­ter­bury coach Glenn De­laney’s de­par­ture to the High­landers after one sea­son would hin­der the play­ers cer­tainly wasn’t ev­i­dent judg­ing by the home team’s per­for­mance.

While they were un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally sloppy in the sec­ond half, their phys­i­cal­ity on de­fence – some­thing cap­tain Tim Bate­man tar­geted dur­ing the week – was a step up from re­cent weeks.

The bonus-point win pro­pelled them four points clear of Taranaki at the top of the premier­ship, set­ting up what should be a bel­ter at AMI Sta­dium next week.

They will al­most cer­tainly have to line up with­out flanker Jed Brown, who picked up what ap­peared to be a se­ri­ous leg in­jury and had to be helped from the field in the first half.

It’s the lat­est in a string of se­ri­ous in­juries to Brown, who will join cap­tain Luke White­lock (knee) on the side­lines.

Other than Can­ter­bury’s li­ne­out, which wasn’t func­tion­ing at its usu­ally high stan­dard, there was enough to like about the home side’s per­for­mance in the first half half.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.