Canterbury grind out win

Saturday, August 20, 2005    

Three tries inside the final ten minutes and a top-notch kicking display from Ben Blair (seven from seven) lent some gloss to what was largely a frustrating exhibition from both teams.

In perfect sunshine at Jade Stadium it was all Red & Black early. Canterbury’s Leon MacDonald, playing here in the No 10 jersey, capping a frenetic start to his side’s third defence of 2005 with a telling 4th minute burst.

Yet uncharacteristic handling errors left the homeside unable to capitalise until (after the Bay temporarily lost halfback and new All Black Kevin Senio to a cut lip) MacDonald scythed through again. Several phases later, wing Caleb Ralph and Casey Laulala combined along the left-hand touchline for the latter to score.

And while Fullback Blair’s conversion extended the lead, Bay of Plenty’s response was immediate: a penalty to No 10 Murray Williams. 7-3 after 18 minutes.

As the first half progressed, unforced knock-ons allowed the visitors back into the game, although it wasn’t reflected in the score: Williams unable to slot his second three-pointer and Blair adding a penalty instead.

But the Canterbury fullback spilt an almost certain try as the first 40 drew to a close - just one of a catalogue of mistakes that left his team rueing how an 81% dominance of territory could yield such a meagre lead.

Halftime score: 10-3 Canterbury

Blair and Williams exchanged penalties from avoidable infringing in the minutes following the break.

13-6 Canterbury and Blair kept his perfect kicking record alive for the day with his third in the 48th minute. Yet even as he slotted his fourth the below-par handling continued, Bay of Plenty flanker Nili Latu seemingly blowing the game wide open in the 64th minute when he strolled over from 12m out... only to be called back by referee Lyndon Bray for hands in the ruck.

Finally it was left to individual skills from Canterbury No 14 Scott Hamilton - straightening the attack before collecting his own chip for the try. With Bay of Plenty captain Wayne Ormond sin-binned, more tries to Greg Somerville and Cameron MacIntyre sealed the win.

Bay wing Anthony Tahana scored a consolation try as the clock ran down.

Final score: 40-13 Canterbury


Canterbury. Tries: Casey Laulala, Scott Hamilton, Greg Somerville, Cameron McIntyre. Conversions: Leon MacDonald, Ben Blair (3). Penalties: Blair (4)

Bay of Plenty. Anthony Tahana. Conversions: Murray Williams. Penalties: Williams (2).

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