Canterbury clinched home advantage for the ITM Cup playoffs after an outstanding attacking display saw them trump Tasman this afternoon.
With the Crusaders pair front-runners in the Premiership for much of the season, the showdown at Trafalgar always loomed as a defining moment in determining top spot. And after an even opening half hour, tries on either side of halftime helped Canterbury secure first place and probably cost Tasman a home semifinal.
The Makos, after winning their opening six games, have now lost three on the bounce and will likely slip behind Auckland and Taranaki heading into the final week of the round robin.
Another loss away to Taranaki next weekend would throw Tasman into a semifinal rematch with Canterbury and, based on today's evidence, the red and blacks will be confident of avenging their defeat at the hands of the Makos in last season's semifinals.
After falling behind courtesy of David Havili's opener, Canterbury immediately hit back through Matt Todd. Rob Thompson's try put the visitors in front heading into the break and, once Tom Taylor dotted down to start the second spell, Canterbury were in complete control. Two late Shane Christie tries saw the Makos threaten a miracle but Cameron McIntyre scored his side's fifth to lock up top spot.
Tasman 25 (D. Havili, S. Christie 2 tries; M. Banks pen, con, T. Renata pen, con)
Canterbury 41 (M. Todd, R. Thompson 2, T. Taylor, C. McIntyre tries; T. Taylor 2 pens, 5 cons)