Canterbury successfully defended the Ranfurly Shield with a 42-18 victory over North Harbour in Christchurch on Friday.
The win consolidates Canterbury’s position at the top of the standings and the Christchurch-based outfit now have 40 points from nine matches played so far this season.
Canterbury outscored their visitors by six tries to two and Jordie Barrett impressed off the kicking tee finishing with a 15-point haul courtesy of three penalties and three conversions.
Both sides played expansively throughout and North Harbour did well to be level at 15-15 at half-time.
The visitors had their tails up early on when Matt Vaega crossed for the first try, after Barrett had opened the scoring in the third minute with a penalty.
Canterbury soon had their first five-pointer – Tom Sanders dotting down after Richie Mo’unga laid the groundwork with a telling break in the build-up.
The home side continued to dominate and were rewarded again when George Bridge crossed the whitewash in the 16th minute and when Barrett added the extras they led 15-5.
North Harbour didn’t surrender though and 10 minutes later they struck back via a Sione Mafileo try. Bryn Gatland slotted the conversion and added a penalty in the 32nd minute which meant they were still in the game at the break.
Gatland added another penalty shortly after the restart but that was the last time the visitors would score any points. Canterbury replied with two further penalties from Barrett, before Sanders crossed for his second try in the 56th minute which gave his side some breathing space.
Mo’unga and Nathan Vella then dotted down in quick succession, which sealed Canterbury’s victory and a Jack Stratton try, in the game’s closing stages, added the final nail to North Harbour’s coffin.
Tries: Sanders 2, Bridge, Mo’unga, Vella, Stratton
Cons: Barrett 3, Mo’unga
Pens: Barrett 3
For North Harbour:
Tries: Vaega, Mafileo
Pens: Gatland 2
Canterbury: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 Jed Brown, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 David McDuling, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Hamish Dalzell, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jack Stratton, 22 Inga Finau, 23 Ben Volavola
North Harbour: 15 Matt McGahan, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Matt Vaega, 12 Michael Little, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Bryn Gatland 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Murphy Taramai, 7 Connor Collett, 6 Glenn Preston, 5 Chris Vui (c), 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Vyron Smith, 1 Adrian Smith
Replacements: 16 Kalem Chan-Boon, 17 Hani Fatai, 18 Jody Allen, 19 Josh Tyrell, 20 Kane Jacobson, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Daniel Hilton-Jones, 23 Afa Fa’atau
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe