Canterbury show ominous title intent
September 14, 2013
Adam Whitelock scored the first points of the game
© Getty Images
Canterbury have edged up the ITM Cup Premiership ladder with victory over Championship rivals Otago in a crossover match at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, their bonus-point win moving them into second place on the ladder, trailing Wellington by five points, but with a game in hand.
The defending champions went ahead early when Adam Whitelock finished a good team try created by winger Milford Keresoma's vision, good support play and accurate offloading in the tackle, but Otago hit back quickly, slicing through Canterbury's much-vaunted defence three minutes later as winger Fa'asiu Fuatai showed magical footwork in dribbling Peter Breen's kick over the line for the try.
Otago maintained the pressure, attacking the breakdown in numbers, and they earned two penalties that ever-reliable Hayden Parker slotted for a 13-7 lead as the half-hour mark ticked over.
Canterbury's scrum was solid as ever, but their lineout was uncharacteristically shaky, and they struggled with their timing and ball-handling on attack; everything clicked three minutes from half-time, however, when they shifted the ball wide from an attacking lineout and Tom Taylor - back after three weeks off with a rib injury - dived over in the corner.
Canterbury extended their lead 10 minutes into the second spell, Corey Flynn muscling over at the bottom of a strong forward drive. Otago narrowed the gap with two Hayden Parker penalties, but replacement prop Paea Fa'anunu put the result beyond doubt when he powered across from close range eight minutes from full-time.
Tom Taylor returned after a three-week break with a rib injury to produce an influential performance © Getty Images
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game