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Canterbury scrapes home

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Thursday, August 5, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

When Manawatu crossed for its fourth and bonus-point try after 44 minutes to open a 26-8 lead, Canterbury seemed dead and buried, but the sinbinning of Manawatu lock Reece Robinson and the entrance of Canterbury's All Black halfback Andrew Ellis turned the game.

Ellis gave Canterbury the direction it was sadly lacking for 50 minutes and the backline gained confidence with his presence.

"There was a fair bit of finger-pointing at half-time – we were guilty of turning over the ball far too often,' Canterbury captain George Whitelock said. "But I was proud of the way the boys came back in the second half.'

Home team Manawatu opened the scoring after five minutes with a beautiful set piece move from a scrum which had Sevens stars, Tomasi Cama and wing Lote Raikabula, combining to easily split the Canterbury defence. Clare converted for a 7-0 lead.

Canterbury hit back after 12 minutes with fullback Sean Maitland getting on the outside of the Manawatu defence after a lineout to score wide out, the Colin Slade conversion attempt going wide.

Clare missed a good penalty chance in the 16th minute and Canterbury responded with a counter-attack which led to a penalty which Slade kicked from close range to put Canterbury ahead, 8-7.

Stephen Brett crossed for Canterbury after 22 minutes only to have the try ruled out for obstruction and Manawatu made the most of that let off with a series of pick-and-gos which was finished by Raikabula. Clare pushed the conversion wide, but Manawatu led, 12-8.

Canterbury had a try ruled out by the TMO after 32 minutes, wing Sam Monaghan unable to get a hand on the ball over the line and Manawatu receiving a 5m scrum. The penalty count mounted against Canterbury and as the confidence ebbed Manawatu stormed back, Cama
gathering his own little grubber kick to score near the left upright after 38 minutes. Shannon Paku converted to give Manawatu the half-time lead, 19-8.

Canterbury was awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute, Slade coming up short from 43m and Manawatu celebrated with a bonus-point try in the 44th minute when Paku burst the line and put wing Casey Stone over. Paku kicked the easy conversion and Manawatu led 26-8.

Canterbury had its second try in the 53rd minute through Robbie Fruean after Paku raced up and missed an intercept, Slade converting from wide out to close the gap to 26-15. Soon after Manawatu had lock Reece Robinson sinbinned.

Canterbury was its own worst enemy as it kept turning over the ball in attacking situations and Hadleigh Parkes went close to kicking a dropped goal on the hour. Canterbury was back in the game after 64 minutes when Canterbury took a quick lineout, lock Isaac Ross split the midfield and threw a lovely pass to unmarked wing Telusa Veainu who ran around near the post to give Slade an easy conversion.

Two minutes later Fruean had his second try and gave Canterbury its bonus-point try after Maitland and replacement halfback Andrew Ellis exposed a tiring defence. Slade missed the conversion from handy range but Canterbury led, 27-26.

In the 70th minute Clare was wide with a 42m penalty goal and Cama missed from 39m with a penalty after 74 minutes. Canterbury kept running the ball and posed problems but the last pass often went astray.

Canterbury kept play inside Manawatu's half for the final minutes, but the home team received a penalty in injury time and Parkes' ambitious attempt from 48m was well short.

Scorers:

Manawatu 26 (Lote Raikabula 2, Tomasi Cama, Casey Stone tries; Shannon Paku 2 con, Craig Clare con) Canterbury 27 (Robert Fruean (2), Sean Maitland, Telusa Veainu tries; Colin Slade 2 con, pen). HT: 8-19.