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Canterbury in remarkable comeback against Taranaki

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There is life in the old legs after all as the defending ITM Cup Premiership champions halted a three-match losing streak to defeat Taranaki 26-23 after it looked like the Amber and Blacks had closed out the game.

The turning point was the sinbinning of the impressive Waisake Naholo in the 60th minute.

At that point it was 23-9 and Colin Cooper’s men looked to have sealed victory and potentially top spot on the table.

But in a match winning burst, Matt Todd and then Johnny McNicholl crossed to score 14 points in three minutes, allowing Canterbury to draw level before Tom Taylor kicked the winning penalty in the 75th minute.

It was the one and only time in the contest that the tourists had the lead at Yarrow Stadium.

Marty McKenzie and long range striker Cody Rei would add a pair of penalties for Taranaki before the home side’s dangerous backline clicked into gear.

Rei would probe the gap feeding the ball onto Naholo, and as the hosts shifted their attack to the right, mighty centre Seta Tamanivalu would score to make it 11-0 after just ten minutes.

Canterbury would open their account with a Tom Taylor penalty in the 23rd minute, but little the champions were doing seemed to be working.

Meanwhile the Naki offensive was just getting started, with Tamaivalu involved again when breaking through the defence feeding the ball to Rei who would make it 18-6.

Taylor would knock over the first points of the second half, and Canterbury coach Scott Robertson would call on his replacements, with Codie Taylor, Dan Lienert-Brown and Milford Keresoma looking to add some impact.

However the hosts would further their advantage when Naholo would score after a lovely one handed pass from Tamanivalu.

The yellow card to the left wing five minutes later for knocking down the ball preventing a potential try seemed to galvanise the champions.

Todd’s try was a classic back rowers score in the 68th minute, and roughly 200 seconds later McNicholl took a great pass from Milford Keresoma and would scamper over 50 metres to score.

Taylor’s kick would seal the match and lock up third spot for Canterbury.

They will travel to New Plymouth or Blenheim pending on the closing results of the ninth round.

Taranaki 23

Tries: Tamanivalu, Rei, Naholo
Cons: McKenzie
Pens: McKenzie, Rei

Canterbury 26

Tries: Todd, McNicholl
Cons: Taylor (2)
Pens: Taylor (4)

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