Canterbury v Auckland
The ITM Cup defending Premiership champions, the so-called slow season starters, have put together a near complete performance in beating Auckland 48-9 in Christchurch this evening.
The two traditional powerhouses, who have won 27 overall titles between them, were totally different beasts in the first week of the 2014 season.
Canterbury started slowly, but then they exploded, preventing Auckland from scoring a try while sending a potential fellow contender away from Christchurch with their tails between their legs.
The match began in lovely sunshine, a very healthy crowd were in attendance at AMI Stadium and they were treated to a blistering start from their team.
While Auckland looked to play Canterbury at their own game early, the smarts of the defending champions was ruthlessly on display in just their first match of the ITM Cup.
Dramatically they altered their game, a massive tick for coach Scott Robertson, taking advantages of lapses in the Auckland defense and cover.
In the tenth minute the procession started when lock Joel Everson scored the first try by the posts, with the red and blacks throwing ball carrier after ball carrier at the stressed Auckland line.
Just three minutes later Adam Whitelock crossed in a long range breakout, a brilliant example of the counterattacking ability of the side.
Patrick Osborne came up with a brilliant take, which led to a quick transition which caught the Auckland defence napping – they missed 10 tackles in the first half alone – which led to Tom Taylor taking a break up the middle, and eventually one of the two Whitelock brothers on the field scored.
Gareth Anscombe would offer a false dawn with two quick penalties in the 18th and 20th minutes.
But Canterbury would keep up the pressure, Johnny McNicholl would score the teams third to make it a 24-6 game with just half an hour gone.
If anything the coaching team would have been disappointed that the champions couldn’t score a bonus point in the first half, which ended with Tom Taylor penalty a minute out from halftime.
A penalty to Gareth Anscombe gave Auckland first points of the second half, but McNicholl would quickly cancel out the potential of a blue and white fight back with the red and black’s bonus point with half an hour still to play.
Matt Todd, putting in a stellar display from number six, scored as the match entered its final quarter, a just reward for one of Canterbury’s most consistent players.
Auckland would bring on reinforcements, but they would count for little as the red and black machine didn’t let up, scoring a salt in the wounds try to Osborne with time all but up on the clock.
Canterbury go top of the ITM Cup table and will likely remain there until the end of the first week.
Tries: McNicholl (2), Everson, A. Whitelock, Todd, Osborne
Cons: Taylor (4), Bleyendaal, Mo’unga
Pens: Taylor (2)
Pens: Anscombe (3)