Canterbury tackle Taranaki extra-time
Sat, 20 Oct 2012 9:27p.m.
Canterbury survived 20 minutes of extra team and a fierce Taranaki challenge to win their NPC Premiership division semi-final 51-27 in Christchurch on Saturday.
The home team's pursuit of a fifth consecutive NPC title looked in doubt as Taranaki charged back in normal time to level the scores 27-27.
It was just the second time an NPC playoff match has gone into extra time and Canterbury responded with three converted tries - to prop Wyatt Crockett and loose forwards George Whitelock and Jordan Taufua - to seal a place in next Saturday's final.
Taranaki lacked the energy that saw them fight back from 27-17 down with 15 minutes remaining courtesy of tries to flanker Chris Walker and reserve back Seta Tamanivalu.
Crucially, neither of them were converted by first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, who was otherwise an outstanding performer for Taranaki.
Like Barrett, Crockett was released from All Blacks squad duty this weekend and he proved an unlikely hero for the hosts, scoring their opening try and forming a key part of a dominant scrum.
That dominance contributed towards Taranaki errors and indiscipline which proved costly.
Canterbury second five-eighth Tom Taylor continued his prodigious season with 17 points from the boot before first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal took over with 11 points kicked in extra time.
It was an unexpectedly staunch challenge from Taranaki, who defended the Ranfurly Shield against Canterbury six weeks ago but have stuttered since, qualifying fourth for the playoffs.
In contrast, Canterbury scorched to dominant victories in their last five regular season matches to qualify first.
They will host the final against either Auckland who beat Wellington.
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