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Canterbury edge valiant North Harbour

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Saturday, October 21, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

With the game on a knife edge at 25-24 to Canterbury in the 75th minutes, Canterbury’s playoff pedigree came to the fore as they crossed for a try to Tim Bateman to finally end North Harbour’s brave challenge.

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North Harbour have been one of the true entertainers in 2017 and came out firing to take a 10-0 lead after just ten minutes to send the shivers through the AMI Stadium faithful. North Harbour first five-eighth Ben Volavola was the architect of Harbour’s fast start with the converted try and penalty.

All eyes were on how young Canterbury pivot Brett Cameron would handle the pressure in place of the unavailable Richie Mo’unga.

After a couple of nervous moments early on, Cameron settled into his work and steered Canterbury expertly around the park.

Mitchell Drummond has not been far from the action all season and when he crossed in the 18th minute, it sparked a dominant ten minutes for Canterbury where they turned the tables on the Hibiscus.

A penalty goal to Cameron and try to George Bridge completed a fantastic turnaround for Canterbury as they went for oranges up 17-10.

Harbour came out of the sheds firing as the brilliant Volavola put them hot on attack before powerful front rower Chris Eves barged over.

The second-half was a true semifinal arm wrestle as the teams traded tries to leave the score precariously placed at 25-24 to Canterbury with just a few minutes left on the clock.



In the end it was Canterbury’s big-match experience that shone through with classy midfielder Tim Bateman finishing off a relentless raid on the North Harbour line.

After being promoted from the Championship, North Harbour can be proud of their season and will be a genuine threat to the title in 2018.

Canterbury captain Luke Whitelock said: “It was a big challenge. North Harbour didn’t roll over and have played well all year. We got pushed deep and had to take control of some of areas and did that well in the last ten minutes. We will celebrate the win now, have a couple of days off, then prepare for what comes next week.”

Canterbury will face the winner of the Taranaki v Tasman semifinal.

SCORERS:
Canterbury 35 (Mitchell Drummond, George Bridge, Billy Harmon, Tim Bateman tries, Brett Cameron 3 con, 3 pen) North Harbour 24 (Chris Eves, Murphy Taramai tries, Ben Volavola try, 3 con, pen)
HT: 17-10