Rugby: Clinical Canterbury too strong for Wellington

Tyler Bleyendaal of Canterbury. Photo / Getty Images.
Tyler Bleyendaal of Canterbury. Photo / Getty Images.

Canterbury 20
Wellington 12

Five-straight NPC titles might sound a little greedy but Canterbury will fancy their chances of dining out again after a clinical defeat of Wellington in Christchurch today.

The red and blacks were surprisingly tipped up by Tasman in their opening match of the season but have since put together convincing wins against Auckland, North Harbour and Wellington.

Today's match was supposed to be their most difficult of the three, given Wellington's perfect start to the season with three wins from three.

The visitors had their chances, and would have taken considerable satisfaction to be trailing just 10-5 at the break given the strong north-westerly they would enjoy at their backs in the second spell, but Canterbury snuffed most of them out.

Canterbury were excellent at the breakdown, particularly the impressive Matt Todd, and were often able to win back the initiative at crucial stages of the game.

Todd doesn't get to play as much as he might like with a certain Richie McCaw also in town but the ITM Cup is largely his domain and he proved how good he can be. If he wasn't snaffling the ball on the deck, he was holding up opposition ball-runners and winning his side a scrum.

Wellington lacked intensity in the second half and were made to pay when replacement wing Telusa Veainu scored two tries in two second-half minutes to give his side some breathing room. If anything, the Lions were guilty of assuming things would fall their way with the wind at their backs but they should have known better than anyone how dangerous that is.

They had done well in the opening spell - they defended well in the first half playing into the wind and played a strong pick-and-go game - but they didn't really spark into action again until late in the match when it was too late. Scott Fugistaller gave his side a faint hope with a try 12 minutes from time but Canterbury were able to soak up the pressure and collect their third-straight win.

A truer picture of Wellington's credentials will emerge in the next week when they also tackle Waikato and Auckland but Canterbury have reminded everyone of their's.

Canterbury 20 (Telusa Veainu 2, Luke Katene tries; Tom Taylor pen, con) Wellington 12 (Matt Proctor, Scott Fugistaller tries; Jason Woodward con). HT: 10-5.

- APNZ

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