Auckland humble defending champions
September 28, 2013
Peter Saili was immense for Auckland
© Getty Images
Auckland have defeated Canterbury for the first time since 2007, their comprehensive ITM Cup victory at Eden Park on Saturday seeing them leap-frog the five-time defending champions into second place behind Wellington Lions on the Premiership ladder.
Auckland made a flying start, and they had their bonus point wrapped up after just 35 minutes, but they conceded three tries either side of half-time, after what looked like a harsh yellow card for centre Malakai Fekitoa, to see their 32-0 lead cut to 32-19. They rallied with Fekitoa back on deck, however, and George Moala scored a try on the hour mark to restore a comfortable buffer.
Auckland were rested after a nine-days break, while Canterbury were backing up from their win over Manawatu on Wednesday, and the hosts started with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. They also kicked well with first use of the wind, making the opposition work the ball out from their own half.
Simon Hickey got their first try, finishing off an expansive move, while Lolagi Visinia produced a big fend on Patrick Osborne to get the second; Tenina Sauileoge was the next player to score and Kara Pryor was driven over from a lineout for the bonus-point fourth try.
George Whitelock and his Canterbury side were played off the park in the opening half-hour © Getty Images
Auckland's romp was halted when Fekitoa was sin-binned for a professional foul at a breakdown just before half-time, and Canterbury gained immediate reward when Osborne scored a try after they had opted for a scrum rather than take a handy penalty shot at goal. Canterbury continued to make use of their man advantage early in the second half, with Rob Thompson showing impressive skill and strength to force his way over in the corner for two tries.
Canterbury's hopes of maintaining momentum were dashed were Fekitoa returned to the pitch, and the hosts thereafter were untested in closing out the match.
George Moala celebrates his try that ended Canterbury's hopes of a dramatic comeback © Getty Images