NPC : Blair treble saves Canterbury blushes
August 25, 2002
NPC champions Canterbury survived a real scare in Rotorua on Sunday afternoon, a Ben Blair treble allowing his side to scramble past Bay of Plenty, 35-30.
In the first round , against North Harbour, the Bay side had done enough to suggest they would be far more competitive this season than last. But after the first quarter, leading by 13-3 and in total control, Canterbury seemed likely to take the points at a stroll.
Perhaps they relaxed at this point , and very nearly paid the price. Led by a magnificent forward effort and the canny positional kicking of Glen Jackson at first five , they scored 20 unanswered points in the second quarter to go into the half time break with a handy 20-13 lead.
This was extended after 43 minutes , and an upset looked on the cards before Canterbury coach Aussie Mclean sent on All Blacks Greg Somerville and Chris Jack to steady the ship. They had enough guile and control to deny the Steamers, but for the second week running they did enough to secure two valuable bonus points.
In the first half , Ben Blair scored all the Canterbury points with a penalty and two tries. Glen Jackson similarly dominated the Bay scoring with a try, two conversions and a penalty. Flanker Voullaire also got on the score sheet with a deserved try.
In the second spell, Lutui and Ormond added tries for the Bay, Blair completed his hat trick and wingers Maddock and Tupuaitei completed touch downs. Blair kicked two further conversions.
So Canterbury have a win to get their defence under way. On today's showing they will need all their test players back sooner rather than later . The Bay will be disappointed that they could not finish Canterbury off, but have put themselves in with a good chance of first division survival, even at this early stage of the season.
Bay of Plenty : 30 Tries : Jackson, Voullaire, Lutui, Ormond. Conversions : Jackson ( 2 ). Penalties : Jackson ( 2 ).
Canterbury : 35 : Tries : Blair ( 3 ), Maddock, Tupuaitei. Conversions : Blair ( 2 ) Penalties : Blair ( 2 )
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