Canterbury 39
Southland 20

Canterbury warmed up for next weekend's playoffs by showing just why they finished on top of the ITM Cup Premiership.

The red-and-blacks ran in five tries to trump Southland at AMI Stadium yesterday, earning their ninth victory and warming up nicely for a semifinal clash with Taranaki.

The defending champions are the only side to have trumped Canterbury this season and Taranaki's defensive record (175 points conceded) is the only mark to rival Scott Robertson's men (177).

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But Canterbury will be tough to topple after proving their mental strength in a testing encounter with a Southland side who finished outside of the playoff places in the Championship.

The Stags withstood an early barrage from the home side, who stormed in front through tries from Ryan Crotty and Johnny McNicholl. Southland soaked up possession before the break and, after Dillan Halaholo and Mike Molloy crossed, looked in line to pull of a major upset.

The scores were soon level courtesy of a Lima Sopoaga penalty but a double from Rob Thompson decided the contest before Tom Sanders added gloss to the scoreline.

Canterbury 39 (R. Crotty, J. McNicholl, R. Thompson 2, T. Sanders tries; R. Mo'unga 2 pen, 4 cons)
Southland 20 (D. Halaholo, M. Molloy tries; L. Sopoaga 2 cons, 2 pens)
HT: 20-17