Canterbury will play in their sixth consecutive ITM Cup Final after beating Auckland 56-26 in Christchurch on Saturday.
Canterbury will play in their sixth consecutive ITM Cup Final after beating Auckland 56-26 in Saturday's semi-final in Christchurch.
A three try-burst either side of half-time secured victory for the home side and sets up a showdown in next weekend's final at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington with the Wellington Lions.
Tyler Bleyendaal was Canterbury's hero in this play-off, contributing 26 points via a try, six conversions and three penalties while Simon Hickey also impressed for Auckland with a 21-point haul through a try two conversions and four penalties.
Canterbury overturned an early 13-7 deficit to thrash their opponents and avenge their 19-39 loss to Auckland during the league stage of the competition.
An area of Canterbury's play which deserves special praise is their scrummaging which was superb throughout. They outmuscled their opponents in this facet of play with Nepo Laulala particularly impressive.
All Blacks George Whitelock, Ryan Crotty and Andy Ellis all got their names on the scoresheet and their experience proved crucial in guiding Canterbury to victory.
Canterbury are now set to extend their five-year title streak but will have deliver another brilliant performance in the final against a Wellington side who were equally impressive in their semi-final win over Counties Manakau on Friday.
Tries: Bleyendaal, Ellis, Manu, George Whitelock, Taufua, Crotty, Siataga
Cons: Bleydendaal 6
Pen: Bleydendaal 3
Tries: Hickey, Aso
Cons: Hickey 2
Pen: Hickey 4
Canterbury: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Adam Whitelock, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rob Thompson, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 George Whitelock (c), 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Luke Katene, 4 Joel Everson, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Seb Siataga, 17 Paea Fa'anunu, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Richie Mo'unga, 22 Jamie Verran.
Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (capt), 11 George Moala, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Wayne Ngaluafe, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Sean Polwart, 5 Sean Brookman, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Kara Pryor, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 William Lloyd, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 Tenina Sauileoge.