Canterbury 21
Taranaki 24

Taranaki drew on all their resources to engineer an upset of the previously unbeaten Canterbury at AMI Stadium.

While the home side were clearly feeling the effects of three tight games in seven days - the 'Storm Week,' - as coach Scott Robertson has referred to it, Taranaki were missing lock James Broadhurst, first five Marty McKenzie and captain Charlie Ngatai, a late defection.

The last time that Taranaki lowered Canterbury in Christchurch was so long ago (1962) that the Wallabies were going down to North Otago and Thames Valley! It was another age. But rugged Taranaki rugby men of the ilk of Ian Eliason and Andrew Slater would doubtless have murmured with approval at the manner in which the forwards attacked their work.


First five Codey Rei kicked four from five off the tee, while lock and skipper Blade Thomson scored a critical second half try which started with an Angus Taavao bust and offload.

They had to withstand a fiery Canterbury comeback, but Taranaki were not to be denied. It all means that the defending champions Taranaki have virtually sealed Premiership semifinals qualification after their fifth consecutive win.

This was Canterbury's first defeat of the season, but they are still well placed for top billing into the finals. They had their standout performers, including Ryan Crotty in the midfield. He and Taranaki No 13 Seta Tamanivalu stuck to each other like glue.

Taranaki played the first half like a team which was coming off nine days since their last match. Their attitude and energy were top-notch, and they reaped the reward, 17-13 to the good at the half. Their pack rolled their sleeves up and some sweet short passing on the short side gave No 7 Berny Hall the first try. Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi sparked the second off a scrum, with a nice offload to Kurt Baker.

Canterbury had to weather the storm, and Johnny McNicholl had their riposte with another opportunist try on the wing, chipping over the top and winning the chase on a fortuitous bounce.

The home side had the edged at scrumtime, but there was not a lot in it, though Taranaki tighthead Taavao, a much improved ball carrier in the open, galloped around to good effect.

"The boys dug deep," said Thomson. "We do heaps of skills work and obviously it pays off."

Both sides are back in action on Saturday, Canterbury in Nelson to meet the Tasman Makos, and Taranaki at Manawatu.

Canterbury 21 (Johnny McNicholl, Marshall Suckling tries; Tom Taylor con, 3 pen)
Taranaki 24 (Berny Hall, Kurt Baker, Blade Thomson tries; Codey Rei 3 con, pen)
Halftime: 17-13 Taranaki