Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Slade sets the tone as Canterbury cut loose

Ryan Crotty of Canterbury running with the ball in the tackle of Kylem O'Donnell of Waikato. Photo / Getty Images
Ryan Crotty of Canterbury running with the ball in the tackle of Kylem O'Donnell of Waikato. Photo / Getty Images

Canterbury 47
Waikato 10

Canterbury were said to be preparing for a backlash from a Waikato team on the rebound from losing the Ranfurly Shield; instead the Mooloo men ran into a Colin Slade-inspired ambush tonight.

Slade, returning from All Blacks duties to play at fullback for Canterbury at AMI Stadium, added a touch of class to just about everything he did, including his quick recovery from a dislocated finger in the first half.

He was directly involved in Milford Keresoma's two opening tries, Slade providing the pass for both wing's touchdowns, including one of 20m for the second, and had a hand in hooker Ben Funnell's try in the first half too.

Slade was taking advantage of a dominant forward pack and a backline, but his composure and vision at the back suggests he could put some pressure on Israel Dagg in the No15 jersey at the Crusaders next season, especially in the early part of the campaign.

In the final 15 minutes he moved to his preferred position of first-five in place of the solid Tyler Bleyendaal and scored a deserved try as the red and blacks ran out bonus point victors.

Waikato, without impressive flanker Jack Lam due to family reasons and four unnamed players who were demoted due to breaches of team protocol, hardly fired a shot in the first half - they didn't mount an attack in the home side's 22m territory until after the halftime hooter.

Even the massive Ben Tameifuna was neutralised by a Canterbury front row including the similarly big Paea Fa'anunu.

To make matters worse, centre and captain Jackson Willison centre and captain went off at halftime, but instead of folding, it was Waikato who started the second half with more intent.

Hooker Brayden Mitchell went over for a deserved try and Save Tokula would have followed suit but for a debatable forward pass.

However, the home side, aided by Slade, flanker Matt Todd, wing Patrick Osborne and midfielder Ryan Crotty, eventually cut loose.

Canterbury, on the hunt for their sixth consecutive title, are three from three this season and it's hard to see them threatened until they meet Wellington, also unbeaten so far, at the Cake Tin in three weeks.

Canterbury 47 (Milford Keresoma 2, Ben Funnell, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Colin Slade, Patrick Osborne tries; Tyler Bleyendaal 2 pens, con; Slade 2 cons). Waikato 10 (Brayden Mitchell try; Wharenui Hawera con, pen).

HT: 21-3

Star man: Colin Slade added a touch of class and was instrumental in Canterbury's first three tries. Switched from fullback to first-five in final minutes.

Workhorse: Waikato hooker Brayden Mitchell was a standout for the visitors in the first half and scored a deserved try as his side struck first after the break.

- APNZ

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