Taranaki celebrated their 125th anniversary in style on Saturday as they recorded a 31-20 win over Canterbury at Yarrow Stadium.
Taranaki celebrated their 125th anniversary in style on Saturday as they recorded a 31-20 win over Canterbury at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
A ferocious second-half defensive display helped the hosts to just their third win over Canterbury in 26 matches, despite facing a strong wind.
The result also lifts Taranaki into equal second in the championship standings, a point ahead of Canterbury who were left empty handed for the first time.
Canterbury fly-half Stephen Brett set up the first try of the game, breaking clear after a line-out to put full-back Sean Maitland into the corner in the second minute. Brett converted superbly into the wind.
Taranaki struck back soon afterwards when number eight Ben Souness scored fantastic try from a scrum 22m out beating Brett and wing Patrick Osborne on his way to the line. The sideline conversion hit the post and went wide.
Brett kicked an easy penalty to extend the lead to 10-5.
Sonny Bill Williams was making his presence felt in midfield as heavy rain began to fall s the match entered the second quarter,
Taranaki took the lead when Willie Ripia's cross kick found wing Andre Taylor, who gathered he put full-back Kurt Baker over by the posts after 25 minutes. Ripia converted to put the home team ahead, 12-10.
Canterbury's attempts to run the ball cost them a try after 33 minutes when centre George Pisi grabbed a dropped ball to score an opportunist try which Ripia converted to shoot Taranaki 19-10 ahead at half time.
Brett narrowed the gap to six points with a penalty after the restart in the 51st minute Williams had his first Canterbury try after some brilliant inter-passing by the visiting forwards and backs with replacement Sam Monaghan, Matt Todd and Brett all playing big hands. Brett converted to put his team ahead, 20-19.
On the hour mark, Jarrad Hoeata made amends for giving away an earlier penalty when he scored Taranaki's bonus-point try after replacement Samuela Vunisa forced a gap on the blindside off a series of mauls.
Another Canterbury backline bungle presented Taranaki with their fifth try, Williams losing the ball as he raced back to cover a kick and replacement Beauden Barrett was gifted the try.
Canterbury were unable to match Taranaki's forwards in the dying minutes and failed to hold into the ball, handing the hosts a memorable victory.
Tries: Souness, Baker, Pisi, Hoeata, Barrett
Cons: Ripia 2, Taylor
Tries: Maitland, Williams
Cons: Brett 2
Pens: Brett 2
Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 George Pisi, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ben Souness, 7 Chris Walker, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Craig Clarke (c), 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Shane Cleaver.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Carl Carmichael, 18 Kane Barrett, 19 Samuela Vunisa, 20 Brett Goodin, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Isaia Tuifua.
Canterbury: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Telusa Veainu, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Ash Parker, 7 George Whitelock (c), 6 Matt Todd, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Peter Borlase, 2 Steve Fualau, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17 Andrew Olorenshaw, 18 Rob Verbakel, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Sam Monaghan, 22 Colin Slade.