Canterbury score fifth successive title
Sat, 27 Oct 2012 9:05p.m.
Canterbury were at their clinical best in beating Auckland 31-18 to win a record-breaking fifth successive NPC rugby title in Christchurch.
Fullback Tom Taylor scored 24 points in a Premiership division final where Canterbury dominated the second half after having trailed 13-7 through 30 minutes.
Taylor's try on the stroke of halftime put the hosts 15-13 ahead and they never looked back.
They made fewer mistakes than the increasingly-frustrated Aucklanders, who rarely threatened to score until a consolation try by reserve winger Lolagi Visinia in the final minute.
Canterbury, who qualified first for the semi-finals, made far fewer errors, fielded a more solid lineout and produced turnovers at crucial times.
Their fifth straight title is a competition record, beating the fours achieved by Auckland from 1987-90 and 1993-96.
It was Canterbury's 10th title overall, second only to the 16 of Auckland.
Surprisingly, the two great rivals had never previously met in a final.
Auckland jumped out of the blocks with a try in third minute to second five-eighth Hadleigh Parkes before Canterbury had touched the ball.
Canterbury made it 7-7 when Taylor followed up a break by centre Robbie Fruean but two penalties to first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe pushed the visitors back in front and lifted the Auckland No.10 to a prodigious 191 points for the season.
Canterbury winger Telusa Veainu was sin-binned in the 33rd minute when he deliberately knocked down a pass from which Auckland looked destined to score.
However, rather than capitalise on their numerical advantage, Auckland's standards slipped and Canterbury scored eight unanswered points while fielding 14 men - including Taylor's second try off a sizzling break from second five-eighth Ryan Crotty.
Two Taylor penalties after halftime were followed by a dropped goal to first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal and try to Veainu in the 60th minute when Auckland fullback Charles Piutau was caught without support when attempting a counter attack from deep.
It was a disappointing result for Auckland captain Daniel Braid, the flanker playing his 100th and quite possibly last game for the union.
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