Reigning champions Canterbury have started this year's Farah Palmer Cup Premiership with a commanding 55-5 win over the Bay of Plenty Volcanix.
Making the step up to the Premiership and taking on the defending champions was never going to be a walk in the park for the Volcanix, in Tauranga on Saturday.
Their effort never waivered, but in the end they were completely overpowered by a classy Canterbury outfit.
Canterbury looked dangerous with ball in hand from the get-go. In the opening two minutes they forced a turnover and went on the attack inside the Volcanix 22m.
Canterbury gave the ball plenty of width, stretching the Volcanix defence, before halfback Kendra Cocksedge straightened up, broke a couple of tackles and reached out to score next to the posts. She converted her own try to make it 7-0.
Eight minutes into the game Canterbury had their second try. After some impressive build-up play inside the Volcanix 22m they shifted the ball right where they had a huge overlap and flanker Lucy Jenkins dived over in the corner to lead 12-0.
The Volcanix displayed some crisp passing on the rare occasion they had possession, but were dominated at the breakdown by a Canterbury side expert in forcing turnovers.
After 15 minutes, Canterbury were in again, this time through winger Melanie Puckett after another well-worked shift to the right-hand side. This time Cocksedge nailed the sideline conversion to lead 19-0.
Minutes later the Volcanix looked likely to produce a counter-attack from their own end where they had a massive overlap. However, Canterbury flanker Estelle Uren read the situation perfectly to intercept and score under the posts. Canterbury led 26-0.
With 13 minutes left in the half Jenkins had her second try when the powerful Canterbury forward pack drove over from a lineout.
Despite trailing by 31, the Volcanix were not about to roll over. They finally got their hands on the ball and after a sustained period of possession inside the Canterbury 22m shifted the ball left to Lesley Elder, who had only just come on as a substitute, and she broke through a tackle to score and make it 31-5 at halftime.
Having gained some momentum at the end of the first half, the Volcanix started the second half with a lot more energy and spent much of the opening minutes deep inside Canterbury territory.
Unfortunately for the home side, they could not turn that dominance into points. Having absorbed the pressure, Canterbury worked their way up field and 15 minutes into the half Cocksedge scored her second try of the match. She converted her own try to make it 38-5.
Minutes later they were in again when winger Sam Curtis hit a gap after a scrum near halfway. She showed electric pace to race away and score next to the posts. The try was converted and Canterbury led 45-5.
Midway through the second half Polly Playle, who captains Rotoiti in the Baywide club competition, came off the bench and added some much needed spark to the Volcanix attack.
Playle's inclusion was not enough to turn the tide, however, as Canterbury were in again with 15 minutes left to play. This time it was fullback Olivia McGoverne who crossed on the left-hand side to crack the half-century. She added another try minutes later to make it 55-5.
The Volcanix threw everything at the Canterbury defensive line late in the game in an effort to reduce the deficit, but the Canterbury defence was immense and the score remained unchanged.
Volcanix captain Christie Yule said Canterbury played with a lot of intensity when they had the ball.
"They kept attacking our gain line and pretty much every time they were pushing over it, bending the defensive line. They were tough at the breakdown, we expected them to be, they've got a fairly big pack. I think we had to warm-up for that a bit better than we did."
Despite the loss, she said there were positives for the Volcanix to take from the match.
"The intent was still to keep pushing for the full 80 minutes, that's something we've always said. We knew it would be tough against last year's champs, but it's a building block for us and we'll learn from this and move on."