Canterbury 45 Tasman 14

There are seven rounds to go, but lock Canterbury in for top spot going into the Mitre 10 Cup playoffs.

Hardly a bold statement, given they have won eight of the nine titles on offer since 2008, but it is one which must be hammered home based on their impressive thrashings of high profile teams to start the season.

Their 45-14 victory over Tasman comes on the back of their opening 43-3 shellacking of Auckland, and makes it consecutive hefty wins over highly rated opponents, with both Tasman and Auckland tipped as semifinal sides by the bookmakers.

Without a cavalcade of All Blacks, Canterbury have the next best thing to anchor their championship chase - All Blacks siblings.


While Luke Whitelock, Scott Barrett and Daniel Lienert-Brown all had varying impacts on the game, 19-year-old Jordie Barrett was immense in just his second game at the provincial level.

A 25-point haul was his reward for a quality performance, showing pinpoint range with his boot and linking well from fullback in a multi-pronged playmaking combination with Richie Mo'unga.

However, Canterbury's handling errors meant it took a while to break down an industrious Tasman side, who found themselves within five points in the second half as rookie winger Tima Faingaanuku powered his way across the line.

But while Barrett was marshalling the backline, the Canterbury forward pack were making their mark, with several powerful scrums leading to important field position from where skipper Whitelock could opt to take the points or go for the corner.

Whitelock led from the front with 17 carries for 56 metres, making a team-high eight tackles and linking well with Matt Todd and Tom Sanders in what is surely the best loose forward trio in the competition.

Those forwards got a chance to show off their ball skills late in the game as well, with Todd linking up superbly with lock Dominic Bird to put the game out of Tasman's reach, before three further tries sent a bonus point and a points differential boost their way.

They probably won't require it though, with their strength of schedule easing over the next few weeks, starting with a trip to Northland next weekend.

Canterbury 45 (Jordie Barrett, Dominic Bird, Nathan Vella, Jack Goodhue, Inga Finau tries; Barrett 4 cons, 4 pens)
Tasman 14 (Tima Faingaanuku try; Marty Banks 3 pens)
Halftime: 16-9