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Five in a row for Canterbury

27th October 2012 09:34

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Tom Taylor: Broke the record for most points scored in a final

Canterbury won a record fifth ITM Cup title on the trot after beating Auckland 31-18 in Christchurch on Saturday.

Auckland dominated proceedings in the first half but were strangled out of the match in the second forty as Canterbury played for territory and took the points when the opportunities presented themselves.

The visitors left nothing to chance and worked themselves to a stand still as they threw everything they had at their opponents, but they just couldn't crack the Canterbury defence.

It was Canterbury full-back Tom Taylor who proved to be the Achilles heel for Auckland, scoring two tries and slotting three penalties and two conversions for a personal haul of 23 points to break the record for most points scored in a final.

The visitors got off to a dream start to silence the parochial Canterbury crowd with a try to centreHadleigh Parkes after just two minutes.

Dave Thomas did a splendid job at claiming Auckland's kick-off, and following a break by livewire full-back Charles Piutau, the ball was recycled as wing Ben Lam flicked out a pass for Parkes who hit the line at pace to go in under the posts.

Auckland looked incredibly threatening with the ball in hand as Lam and Piutau both made inroads through the Canterbury defence, but two misdirected kicks that went out on the full and dead in goal gave the ball back to the opposition in prime attacking real estate.

A quick tap from a Canterbury scrum inside Auckland's half saw the ball spun wide as bruising midfielder Robbie Fruean got on the outside of Lam and passed inside to Taylor who went over for the try.

Two penalty kicks to Gareth Anscombe gave Auckland a 13-7 lead at the half hour mark before Taylor struck back with a penalty kick of his own.

Auckland should then have scored a fine try with a massive overlap but a cynical knock down by Telusa Veainu denied the visitors a five-pointer as the Canterbury winger earned himself 10 minutes in the sin bin for his trouble.

However Auckland were unable to turn the one man advantage into points, and instead it was the hosts who struck a killer blow on the stroke of half-time.

From a stolen line-out, the ball was spun wide to Ryan Crotty who brushed off a tackle and passed to Taylor who scored for his second try of the night to give Canterbury a slender 15-13 lead at the break.

Canterbury looked to exert their dominance in the second half with two further penalty kicks to Taylor and a drop goal to Tyler Bleyendaal.

Auckland's first championship since 2007 was slowly slipping from their grasp and as they were forced to play catch-up rugby, it backfired badly.

Piutau tried to spark his side into action with a run inside his own 22, but he was caught by the swarming red and black defence, and as the ball was turned over and spun wide, Fruean stepped inside his man and passed to Veainu who went over in the corner.

Lolagi Visinia managed to score a consolation try on full-time, but it was too little too late as Canterbury celebrated their fifth championship victory in a row.

The scorers:

For Canterbury:
Tries: Taylor 2, Veainu
Cons: Taylor 2
Pens: Taylor 3
Drop: Bleyendaal

For Auckland:
Tries: Parkes, Visinia
Con: Anscombe
Pens: Anscombe 2

Canterbury: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Joel Everson, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nasi Manu, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Kolio Hifo, 22 Stephen Gee.

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Dave Thomas, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Nathan Hughes, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Wayne Ngaluafe, 21 Simon Hickey, 22 Lolagi Visinia.

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