New Zealand Cup
Canterbury too classy for Tasman
October 10, 2008
Canterbury's George Whitelock stretches the Tasman defence
© Getty Images
The silent minority who backed Tasman to rise to the occasion of an Air NZ Cup play-off were well wide of the mark as Canterbury cruised into the semi-finals tonight.
Canterbury proved a class apart in winning their quarterfinal 48-10 in Christchurch as Tasman barely fired a shot despite having All Blacks lock Brad Thorn at their disposal for the first time.
The visitors conceded two soft tries in the first half to trail 3-17 at the interval by which stage the Canterbury coaching staff could afford to start looking ahead to their semifinal next week.
Centre Casey Laulala strolled over for Canterbury's first try in the eighth minute when he was put into a gap on the short side before loose forward Kieran Read got in on the act 17 minutes later.
Captain Read, playing at No 8, did not have to exert himself either, picking up the ball from the base of the scrum before casually stepping inside Tasman halfback Kahn Fotuali'i.
First five-eighth Colin Slade converted both to add to his earlier penalty and Canterbury were in firm control at 17-0.
Tasman No 10 Miah Nikora landed a 41m penalty before the break after flanker Corey Flynn was penalised for a high tackle, in what amounted to their highlight after 40 minutes of indifferent effort.
Tasman's defensive frailties were exposed again immediately after the restart when Slade picked up a loose pass before waltzing through two defenders to score a try of his own.
Nine minutes later it was that man Slade again as he produced a pinpoint, high crosskick which wing Paul Williams leapt high to accept before twisting his way over the tryline in the tackle of Tasman centre Kade Poki.
Sandwiched between these efforts was Tasman's best moment of the match, as a break by Poki led to wing Afeleke Pelenise capping a long movement with a try in the left-hand corner.
That marked a brief respite for Tasman, who were clearly outmanned, the differences in the sides underlined in the 55th minute when Canterbury coach Rob Penney introduced All Blacks captain Richie McCaw from the substitutes' bench.
As if to celebrate McCaw's arrival Williams crossed for his second try after looming up in support of Tim Bateman, after the second five-eighth surged through a huge hole in the Tasman defensive line.
Penney had the luxury of clearing his entire bench for the closing quarter as Canterbury rubbed Tasman's noses in it with further tries to fullback Scott Hamilton and left wing James Paterson.
Result of an Air NZ Cup quarter-final in Christchurch tonight:-
Canterbury 48 (Paul Williams 2, Casey Laulala, Kieran Read, Colin Slade, Scott Hamilton, James Paterson tries; Slade pen, 4 con, Hamish Gard con) Tasman 10 (Afeleke Pelenise try; Miah Nikora pen, con). Halftime: 17-3.