Canterbury punish Taranaki

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Saturday, August 20, 2011    NZPA    Getty Images

Taranaki's last win in Christchurch was in 1962 and the Ferdinands have won only three of 28 matches since 1977. That it was not to be Taranaki's day was evident early when it conceded two tries in the first 11 minutes then missed four penalty goal opportunities, three of which should have been kicked.

Canterbury, beaten by Taranaki in New Plymouth last year, was never in danger of losing this premiership match and big centre Robbie Fruean crashed across for the bonus-point try after 75 minutes.

Canterbury needed only three minutes to score the first try. A poor Taranaki clearing kick fell to Canterbury fullback Sean Maitland who started a counter-attack expertly finished by right wing Johnny McNicholl, who beat two tackles. Tyler Bleyendaal missed the wide conversion.

Jack Cameron's penalty attempt for Taranaki from 47m fell short three minutes later, but Canterbury made no mistake after 11 minutes with Maitland entering the backline from a lineout win and proving too quick for a sluggish Taranaki midfield defence. Bleyendaal added the extras from a sharp angle for a 12 lead.

No. 8 Samuela Vunisa took Taranaki onto attack, seizing a loose ball from a ruck and winning a penalty which Cameron missed from handy range after 15 minutes. Three penalties in quick order gave Cameron another easy penalty chance, but again he dragged it left from 20m out.

Both teams had turns on attack early in the second quarter but turnovers in the red zone proved costly. Canterbury, however, looked a lot more dangerous down the outside channels with lock Ash Parker and hooker Ben Funnell ranging wide.

After 34 minutes Taranaki had another penalty opportunity and Jayden Hayward also failed to slot a kick from in front 38m out. In the final minute before the break Canterbury scored its third try after halfback Willi Heinz collected a clearing kick on his 22m and made a brilliant 50m run before linking up with Parker who dived over in the corner. Bleyendaal missed the sideline conversion, but the home team led 17-0 at half-time.

Bleyendaal's first penalty kick after 48 minutes from 28m out was on target to extend the lead to 20 points. Both teams went to the subs bench in the first quarter with three changes each. Canterbury wing Patrick Osborne made a slashing midfield break after 55 minutes, but centre Robbie Fruean lost the ball forward inside the 22m.

Bleyendaal missed a 46m penalty from just to the right of the post after 58 minutes and most of the play stayed in Taranaki's half as the game entered the final quarter. Osborne made another searing sideline run which was only halted by desperate defence inside the 22m.

Canterbury captain George Whitelock was issued a team warning by referee Ben Skeen after repeated breakdown infringements in the 66th minute. Parker and Fruean combined for another good territorial gain, but the penalties kept going against Canterbury and Taranaki was able to clear several times from deep defence.

Fruean bagged Canterbury's bonus-point try with five minutes to play, bursting through two tackles 5m out after the home team attacked the blindside from an attacking scrum on the 22m. Bleyendaal kicked the sideline conversion for a 27-0 lead.

Taranaki was hot on attack but unable to cross the line when the final hooter sounded.

Canterbury 27 (Johnny McNicholl, Sean Maitland, Ash Parker, Robbie Fruean tries; Tyler Bleyendaal 2 con, pen) Taranaki 0. HT: 17-0