Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

ITM Cup: Defending champions rumble on

Impressive Canterbury show their depth on their way to six-try home demolition of Northland

Mitchell Drummond scores one of Canterbury's six tries against Northland last night. Photo / Getty Images
Mitchell Drummond scores one of Canterbury's six tries against Northland last night. Photo / Getty Images

At least there was 25 minutes of resistance.

There won't be many more lopsided affairs on paper in this year's ITM Cup than Canterbury hosting Northland and for the opening quarter of last night's contest, the Taniwha held their own.

They even took an unlikely early lead via a Daniel Hawkins penalty but that was about as good as things got before the Canterbury machine finally rumbled in to action and eventually strolled to a 48-3 win.

The six-time defending champions have oodles of depth and Canterbury coach Scott Robertson rung the changes to give the majority of his squad a chance to impress.

Northland would have started with a quiet confidence after they upset Wellington 35-5 last weekend, while Canterbury opened the competition with big wins over Premiership rivals Auckland and Waikato.

But once Canterbury halfback Mitchell Drummond scored in the 25th minute, the points began to flow and the home side took a 20-3 advantage to the halftime break.

Given all the changes Robertson made, Canterbury experienced their share of bumps during the game as their combinations didn't run with their usual precision.

They still managed to secure the four-try bonus point with more than half an hour left when Jack Goodhue scored his second try in as many weeks.

The pace of the game was too much for Northland who regularly fell on the wrong side of the referee, which continually put them on the back foot.

Canterbury were dominant at set-piece, which provided a solid platform for them to work from and Northland were never in the game once the home side started cooking.

The points continued to flow for Canterbury in the second spell and the final whistle would have been welcomed by a battered Northland.

Canterbury travel to Dunedin to meet Otago next Thursday, while Northland will host Hawke's Bay in Whangarei next Friday night.

Canterbury 48 (Nasi Manu 2, Mitchell Drummond, Tom Sanders, Jack Goodhue, Patrick Osborne tries; Colin Slade 2 pen, 6 con)
Northland 3 (Daniel Hawkins pen). HT: 20-3

- NZ Herald

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