Canterbury 56-26 Auckland, ITM Cup
Canterbury in another Premiership decider
October 19, 2013
Ryan Crotty crossed the stripe for the Red-and-Black
© Getty Images
Canterbury proved too strong for Auckland at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, the five-time defending ITM Cup champions breezing into yet another Premiership decider.
Auckland won the round-robin meeting at Eden Park 39-19, but the story was very different in Christchurch, where Canterbury are unbeaten in the two seasons they have played at AMI Stadium. The result sets up a final involving the season's two leading teams, with top-ranked Wellington having already booked their berth by defeating Counties Manukau 41-10 on Friday.
Andy Ellis, just a week after dislocating a shoulder, played an influential role for Canterbury with one of the their seven tries while setting up another during his 50 minutes on the field. Tyler Bleyendaal finished with 26 points from a try and nine successful kicks from 10 shots at goal, and Auckland's Simon Hickey wasn't far behind with 21 points after also getting a try and landing all six of his attempts from the tee.
Auckland lad early through two early penalty goals, but Canterbury hit the front after sustained pressure opened a gap for Bleyendaal to slip through for a try he converted. Auckland replied soon after when, having had their scrum destroyed, they were able to disrupt Canterbury's subsequent put-in; Luke Braid snapped up the loose ball and Hickey finished off the attack.
Canterbury's Johnny McNicholl and Andy Ellis congratulate Tyler Bleyendaal for his try © Getty Images
Bleyendaal and Hickey then traded penalties before Canterbury swung the pendulum their way with two tries in three minutes late in the first half, both featuring Ellis, who got the first after some neat inter-passing. Ellis then produced a snipe from a scrum that led to No.8 Nasi Manu dotting down.
Canterbury moved further ahead just a minute after the restart when a well-worked set-piece led to skipper George Whitelock scoring. Auckland hit back through winger Vince Aso, but Canterbury made sure of victory with three further tries. Substitute loose forward Jordan Taufua got the first after a breakout, Ryan Crotty claimed the second from a slick scrum move, and replacement hooker Seb Siataga grabbed the last after a charge-down.
Auckland's Simon Hickey produced a strong personal performance © Getty Images