Two-try burst gives Canterbury final place

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Saturday, October 18, 2008    Getty Images

Canterbury, which last made the final of the national provincial championship in 2004, was twice behind in the first half but equalised very quickly, the teams going to half-time at 14-all.

The match turned midway through the half when Canterbury scored two converted tries in three minutes, both to forwards running on to breaks which eventuated after Bay had kicked away possession.

The Bay pack stuck to its task better than when Canterbury dominated it in their first meeting, but the backs were unable to produce some of the magical moves which had marked their recent matches.

The first minute produced a drama Canterbury did not want to play out. Canterbury regained the ball from the opening kick-off and swept onto attack. Wing James Paterson sprinted for the corner but fell awkwardly in the tackle of Bay fullback Israel Dagg and was helped off with a bad knee injury.

It was even worse for the home team when Canterbury first five-eighths Colin Slade missed a simple penalty goal in the third minute.

A period of aerial ping-pong ensued, Hawke's Bay faring a little better and when Canterbury halfback Andrew Ellis dropped the ball forward from a defensive scrum, the Bay attacked and had the first try in the 13th minute when flanker Karl Lowe ran through the tackles of Michael Paterson, Ellis and Scott Hamilton.

Matt Berquist converted from a wide angle to give his team a 7-0 lead.

It was a short-lived advantage, however, Slade twice carving through glaring gaps, his second slicing run setting up a try for Ellis and a simple conversion for Slade only three minutes later.

With the early jitters settled, Canterbury started to play an expansive game, stretching the defence, but Bay held and, on the back of several free kicks, Lowe burst through for his second try as a fracas took place away from the ball. Berquist again converted to put the Bay in front, 14-7.

Canterbury's replied almost immediately, the forwards driving to the line and Slade wriggling through a half gap. He converted his own try and it was back to square, 14-14.
Prop Wyatt Crockett excited the small crowd with a midfield burst that took Canterbury to 15m of the line before a dropped pass stopped the momentum.

Ellis limped off the in the 34th minute with a knee strain to be replaced by Tyson Keats.

Soon after Canterbury hooker Corey Flynn bee-lined for the corner only to be denied by a brave covering tackle by Bay captain Danny Lee, the try being ruled on the TMO’s call. Lee took a knock to the head and was replaced by Chris Eaton.

Canterbury attacked hard for the final few minutes, but Bay's defence held and the teams went to the break level.

Canterbury won a tighthead on attack six minutes into the second half but failed to capitalise and Bay worked itself into Canterbury’s 22m where it spent a good time on attack without reward.

A charge down by George Naoupu almost led to a Bay try in the 55th minute, a Keats tackle saving the day and helped by Bay flanker Michael Johnson dropping the released ball.

Canterbury finally hit the lead for the first time in the 58th minute after turning over Bay ball at the breakdown. Clever passing put lock Michael Paterson in the clear and he raced 20m to score under the crossbar leaving Slade an easy conversion.

Two minutes later Canterbury captain Kieran Read was dotting down in the same place after Bay kicked away possession and Scott Hamilton toed ahead, gathered the ball, and slipped a pass to the unmarked Read.

Slade's conversion had the home team ahead, 28-14.

Bay claimed a tighthead back in the 66th minute and a penalty soon after which put it on attack, but replacement Mark Jackman got crunched in a Casey Laulala tackle in the corner and Slade made a brilliant save seconds later, rolling lock Bryn Evans on his back over the goal-line after Tim Bateman's kick was charged down.

Slade slotted a 48m penalty goal from in front with eight minutes remaining to take Canterbury 17 points clear

Bay's endeavours brought a deserved try two minutes from time to lock Evans after good inter-passing , Berquist adding the conversion and the final whistle went with Canterbury a 31-21 winner.

Scorers: Canterbury 31 (Andrew Ellis, Colin Slade, Michael Paterson, Kieran Read tries; Slade 4 con, pen) Hawke's Bay 21 (Karl Lowe 2, Bryn Evans tries; Matt Berquist 3 con). HT: 14-14