Canterbury march into fourth straight final

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Friday, October 19, 2018    Getty Images

For the tenth time in eleven years, Canterbury will contest for New Zealand’s premier provincial rugby crown after coming from 13-6 down at halftime to beat Tasman 16-21 in Nelson.


Interestingly, Tasman were the last team to beat Canterbury in a knockout game when they defeated them in 2014, but there was to be no repeat at Trafalgar Park as Canterbury’s finals experience came to the fore in the second half to suffocate a lively Mako side.

Tasman looked in control at the break after scoring the only try of the first half through skipper David Havili. But Canterbury were systematic in the second half by controlling an incredible 82 percent of possession and shutting Tasman out of the game.

Tasman were forced to into desperate measures on defence in the second half, and as a consequence had two players yellow carded. On both occasions, Canterbury scored tries through skipper Mitchell Drummond to take control of the game.

Trailing 16-9 at the 60th minute, Canterbury opted for a number of scrums on the Tasman line instead of taking a shot at goal. The tactic paid off when the ball popped loose from the back of the scrum and halfback Drummond sniped down the blindside to score.

But Drummond wasn’t done there. In a week where he celebrated a call up to the All Blacks wider squad for the November Test against Japan, the classy number nine put on one of his best displays of the season.

With fullback Will Jordan off for an intentional knock down, Drummond chipped the ball behind the Tasman defence and re-gathered to score and take the lead for Canterbury 16-21 with five minutes to play.

There was to be no final twist from a 14-man Tasman team as Canterbury expertly wore down the clock and claimed the victory over their Crusaders partners.

Canterbury will take on the winner of the Auckland- Wellington semifinal for their fourth straight Premiership title.

There were plenty of positives to take out of the season for Tasman who will return in 2019 with the bulk of their squad and better for the experience.

Tasman 16 (David Havili tries, Mitchell Hunt con, 3 pen) Canterbury 21 (Mitchell Drummond 2 tries, Brett Cameron 3 pen, con)
HT: 13-6