Rugby: Canterbury hold off tough Taranaki

By Sam Warlow

Canterbury's Ben Volavola looks to offload in the tackle against Taranaki. Photo / Photosport
Canterbury's Ben Volavola looks to offload in the tackle against Taranaki. Photo / Photosport

Canterbury held off a late Taranaki surge to tighten their grip on the Premiership competition.

Showcasing their depth, coach Scott Robertson went to the bench early and often as his side secured their third win in eight days, this time a bonus point victory at Yarrow Stadium.

New Plymouth product Jordie Barrett was a standout for Canterbury in his homecoming game, scoring a try as well as saving one after he dislodged the ball from Taranaki No 8 Iopu Iopu Aso close to the line. 19-year-old Barrett was also near perfect from the tee, converting six of his seven attempts.

Taranaki five-eighth Marty McKenzie had a mixed performance. After kicking two quick penalties to eclipse 100 points for the season and setting up a Rhys Marshall try, two key lapses allowed for a pair of Canterbury tries.

McKenzie missed a crucial tackle on Canterbury flanker Jed Brown which set up a Jack Stratton try, and crumbled under defensive pressure near his own line to let in a Richie Mo'unga score.

After taking a one-point lead into the sheds, Canterbury came out and showed why they are the best team in the competition.

Second half tries to Barrett, Luke Whitelock and Mo'unga would give Canterbury a 12-point lead with just ten minutes to play.

However, Taranaki were far from finished. Fullback Stephen Perofeta crossed the line to give his side hope, but his boot betrayed him as he couldn't convert his own try. Another Barrett penalty kept Canterbury just out of reach as the game wound down.

Still refusing to lie down, Toa Halafihi scored for Taranaki in the 77th minute, closing the gap to five points and setting up a grandstand finish.

Taranaki would get one last crack to steal the game, controlling the ball deep into the 82nd minute but they couldn't produce another try to complete the fairytale finish.

Canterbury 39 (Luke Whitelock 2, Jack Stratton, Jordie Barrett, Richie Mo'unga tries; Barrett 2 pens, 4 cons)
Taranaki 34 (Rhys Marshall, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Stephen Perofeta, Toa Halafihi tries, Marty McKenzie 4 pens, con).
Halftime: 18-17

- NZ Herald

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