NPC: Canterbury host Lions in Final
Sat, 19 Oct 2013 09:43
Tasman's outstanding season continues
Canterbury kept alive their hopes of a sixth successive NPC title by overwhelming Auckland 56-26 in their semifinal in Christchurch.
A slick Canterbury proved too strong for Auckland in this Premiership encounter.
The result set up a Final involving the season's two leading teams - with the top-ranked Wellington having already booked their berth by downing Counties Manukau 41-10.
Auckland had won the round-robin meeting at Eden Park 39-19, but it was a different story in Christchurch, where Canterbury haven't lost in the two seasons they have been there.
Scrumhalf Andy Ellis, just a week after dislocating his shoulder, played an influential role for Canterbury, who are chasing a sixth NPC title in a row.
Ellis scored one of the home side's seven tries, set up another and was generally busy during his 50 minutes on the field.
Canterbury flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal finished with 26 points from a try and nine successful kicks from 10 shots at goal.
Opposite number Simon Hickey wasn't far behind with 21 points after also getting a try and landing all six of his attempts from the tee.
Down just 25-19 at half-time despite facing the wind, Canterbury pulled ahead just a minute after the restart when a well-worked set-piece led to skipper George Whitelock scoring.
Auckland hit back through wing Vince Aso, but Canterbury made sure of victory with three further tries.
Substitute loose forward Jordan Taufua got the first after a break-out, second five Ryan Crotty the second from a slick scrum move, and replacement hooker Seb Siataga the last after a charge down.
In the first half, after conceding two early penalty goals, Canterbury hit the front when sustained pressure opened a gap for Bleyendaal to slip through for a try he converted.
Auckland replied soon after when, having had their scrum destroyed, they were able to disrupt Canterbury's subsequent put-in.
Flank Luke Braid snapped up the loose ball and Hickey finished off the attack.
Canterbury swung the pendulum back their way with two tries in three minutes late in the first half, both featuring Ellis, who got the first after some neat interpassing.
Ellis then produced a snipe from a scrum that led to No.8 Nasi Manu dotting down.
* Meanwhile Tasman's outstanding season continued apace when they showed far greater hunger for the ball than Southland to prepare for the NPC Championship 9Second Division) Final with a 49-28 win at Blenheim on Saturday.
All Saturday's scores and scorers:
Canterbury 56-26 Auckland
Tries: Bleyendaal, Ellis, Manu, Whitelock, Taufua, Crotty, Siataga
Cons: Bleydendaal 6
Pens: Bleydendaal 3
Tries: Hickey, Aso
Cons: Hickey 2
Pens: Hickey 4
Tasman 49-28 Southland
Tries: Koloamatangi, Squire, Scott, Heem, Malneek, Banks
Cons: Banks 5
Pens: Banks 3
Tries: Eade, Milne, Dixon, Murray
Cons: Eade 4
Source: NZ Newswire
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