Canterbury secure home final against Auckland
Saturday, October 17, 2015 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
It wasn't so much Canterbury flash and dash that undid Taranaki but more methodical, calculated and applied pressure rugby that utilised nearly every opportunity that arose. Taranaki scored three tries, but they also committed a string of offences in goal-kicking range for fullback Tom Taylor who helped himself to 26 points from four conversions and six penalty goals.
It was all about pressure being maintained by a Canterbury side more experienced when it came to knockout rugby than any other in the country. Although the tries didn't come early, the relentless pendulum that was Taylor's goal-kicking right leg kept the score ticking over.
Canterbury were in no mood to concede a second loss to last season's champions in the same season and they ensured the visitors were constantly chasing, and as time wore on that increased the pressure to take risks.
Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi looked to have been targeted by Canterbury so often during the first half was he put under pressure. It was his attempted clearance kick that was swiped off his toe like a burglar in the night by second five-eighths Rob Thompson who jogged in for the first of his two 'chargedown' tries.
That try was an instant response to the opening try of the game scored by Taranaki wing Jackson Ormond who had the benefit of out of the back of the hand passes from both mid-fielders, second five-eighths Charlie Ngatai and centre Seta Tamanivalu, and a well-timed pass from flanker Berny Hall.
But untidy distribution saw a pass from lock Riki Hoeata intercepted and lively wing Marshall Suckling, who popped up in all sorts of places, was able to race away for an unchallenged try.
Canterbury did cough up ball of their own four minutes later, in the 47th minute, and Tamanivalu was able to grab the ball and get it to replacement wing Latu Vaeno, who linked inside with fullback Kurt Baker.
He then made a strong run downfield, beat Ryan Crotty's cover tackle and scored.
But almost immediately another penalty was conceded and Taylor extended the lead effectively beyond Taranaki's ability to respond.
They kept trying to score and one attempt which looked certain to result in a try with a 3:1 overlap resulted in a penalty try when wing Johnny McNichol was ruled to have deliberately knocked the ball away, who was also sent to the sin-bin.
But with Thompson having pulled off another chargedown and recovery for a try, this time when Baker was attempting to clear, Canterbury had a big points buffer.
Nine minutes later Thompson made a strong run into the Taranaki goalmouth and halfback Mitchell Drummond ran and feinted to open a space for hooker Ben Funnell to thunder through to score.
Scorers: Canterbury 46 (Rob Thompson 2, Marshall Suckling, Ben Funnell tries; Tom Taylor 4 con, 6 pen) Taranaki 20 (Jackson Ormond, Kurt Baker tries, penalty try; Codey Rei con, pen). HT: 19-8
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