Canterbury pip Auckland to ITM Cup

Date published: October 24 2015

Canterbury won their seventh ITM Cup title as they edged a steely Auckland outfit 25-23 in an entertaining final in Christchurch on Saturday.

After not making the final for the first time since 2007 last year, the Cantabs responded in fine fashion as Scott Robertson's side triumphed.

The first-half was a thriller as four tries were scored inside the opening 17 minutes, with Canterbury enjoying the wind on their home patch.

Returning left wing Patrick Osborne, second-row Dominic Bird and outside centre Ryan Crotty were the scorers, with hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate responding for Auckland who had Simon Hickey's boot to thank for a 19-16 deficit at the break. It was all set up for a fascinating second 40.

And what that lacked in tries, it made up for in tension as Tom Taylor's 67th minute penalty goal proved to be the match-winner for Canterbury.

Osborne opened the scoring on two minutes after slick hands involving Matt Todd led to the wing going over, with Taylor missing the extras.

The lead was stretched to twelve points on ten minutes when no line-out defence from Auckland allowed lock Bird to race over from 20 metres out.

Fortunately for Auckland they recovered and crossed through hooker Pleasants-Tate from close-range and looked to be very much back in the final.

However, Crotty would hit back for Canterbury thanks to Johnny McNicholl's clever inside pass and it was 19-7 with Taylor's simple conversion.

Cue fly-half Simon Hickey chipping away at that lead as his three penalties made it 19-16 at the break with the wind soon to be in Auckland's favour.

They would score the only try of the second-half through flanker Mitch Karpik, which gave them the lead for the first time in the match on 46 minutes.

But Taylor stepped up with thirteen minutes to play in a nervy second-half to add to his 44th minute effort for what was the match winner as Canterbury celebrated getting their hands back on New Zealand's coveted provincial trophy.

The scorers:

For Canterbury:
Tries: Osborne, Bird, Crotty
Cons: Taylor 2
Pens: Taylor 2

For Auckland:
Tries: Pleasants-Tate, Karpik
Cons: Hickey 2
Pens: Hickey 3

Canterbury: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Dan Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Jack Stratton, 22 Cameron McIntyre, 23 Marshall Suckling.

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Vince Aso, 12 George Moala, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Mitch Karpik, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 1 Isileli Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Tom McHugh, 18 Jono Owen, 19 William Lloyd, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Jono Hickey, 22 Mitch Hunt, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Damian Botherway
TMO: Chris Wratt