Canterbury laid on a final quarter blitz to squash Tasman 45-14 and secure top place in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership after two rounds.
With the game in the balance at 19-14 with 20 minutes to play, Canterbury showed their class to run in three tries in the final quarter to secure their second big win in as many weeks.
One of the bright spots for Canterbury was the performance of 19-year-old fullback Jordie Barrett. The New Zealand Under 20s representative came away with a 25 point haul to underscore his status as one of the rising stars of New Zealand rugby.
With the sun shining at AMI stadium, the stage was set for a great clash in the battle of the Crusaders partners. Tasman suffered a couple of early injury blows with classy second five-eighth David Havili and blindside flanker Shannon Frizell both taken from the field with injury but continued to fight hard in a tight first half.
With both teams showing great attacking intent but lacking the finishing, a Jordie Barret try was the only difference as Canterbury took a 16-9 lead at the break.
The stalemate continued in the first half as the Tasman defence refused to yield and Canterbury had to settle for a penalty to extend their lead to 19-9. After holding Auckland try-less last week, Canterbury conceded their first try of the season when Tasman worked a sweeping set piece move to put 19-year-old wing Tima Faingaanuku over in the corner.
With the gap closed to 19-14 with 20 minutes left, Canterbury lifted the tempo and Tasman couldn’t respond as lock Dominic Bird and replacement hooker Nathan Vella crossed for tries. With Canterbury’s forwards and backs linking seamlessly, the home side ran in one more try to replacement midfielder Inga Finau to put the icing on a stunning final quarter.
For Canterbury, their powerful loose forward trio of Tom Sanders, Matt Todd and Luke Whitelock was a standout. The three combined well at the breakdown and featured with ball in hand to put Canterbury on the front foot.
Canterbury captain Luke Whitelock said: “It didn’t come easy, we had to work hard. It’s always tough against Tasman. In the first half we tried to force things so we tried to be a bit more patient in the second half and it paid off.”
Canterbury 45 (Dominic Bird, Nathan Vella, Jack Goodhue, Inga Finau tries, Jordie Barrett try, 4 con, 4 pen)
Tasman 14 (Tima Faingaanuku try, Marty Banks 3 pen)