Canterbury extend their dynasty in final

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Saturday, October 29, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

It was an extension of Canterbury's dominance of the competition, their eighth out of the last nine titles, as they sent coach Scott Robertson on his way to the Crusaders' coaching role.

If Tasman were to make a significant impact on the game they needed first five-eighths Marty Banks to be on top of his game but it became the changing of eras as his Canterbury opposite Richie Mo'unga took control of the game scoring two tries himself and setting up two others. For Banks there were some flourishes but more mistakes than he would have wanted in ending his association with the side before heading to Italy.

Canterbury made a sensational start when Banks' attempted to clear the ball from the Tasman 22 had his kick charged down by hard-working lock David McDuling, who was able to run through onto the ball and open the scoring after only 42 seconds.

Five minutes later, Mo'unga broke from around halfway into the Tasman 22m area. From the resulting play the ball emerged to Mo'unga at first receiver and he slipped a grubber kick through and wing Nathan Earle won the favourable bounce to score Canterbury's second.

But Earle blemishished his copy book after Banks had landed a penalty goal when infringing and was sent to the sin-bin by referee Glen Jackson. Hooker Andrew Makalio went close to scoring but the TMO ruled he was short of the goal-line and while Canterbury cleared the line when Tasman were unable to capitalize.

However, they received another chance after some untidy work by flanker Tom Sanders. He attempted to kccp the ball in play but it was seized by centre Kieron Fonotia and he kicked it into Canterbury's 22m area. Centre Jordie Barrett was back to cover but lacked support as the Tasman forwards powered into the breakdown and it was flanker Shannon Frizzell who picked the ball up and scored.

Tasman had wiped out the deficit but there was no time to savour the moment because Mo'unga took advantage of an unexpected wall of his own players in front of him to elude the defenders and score a superb individual try to regain the initiative, which was extended when Barrett landed a penalty goal that saw Canterbury got to half-time leading 22-13.

It was typical of Tasman's first half that just after the final hooter Banks was lining up a 52m attempt at a penalty goal but when the ball fell off the tee, an assistant referee Brendon Pickerill suggested the TMO look at an incident and when the view was taken it showed that Tasman lock Alex Ainley had neck rolled Canterbury fullback Johnny McNicholl. The penalty was reversed and Ainley was sent to the sin-bin for an extended half-time break.

It proved costly after the break as Canterbury took advantage with Earle making a strong run deep into Tasman territory and then Banks kicking the ball out on the full which allowed Canterbury to set up a maul and while they didn't score immediately, they won a five-metre scrum and second five-eighths Rob Thompson took the chance provided to score.

Restored to full strength there was an immediate improvement in Tasman's endeavor and Canterbury's defences were given a thorough test during a 17-phase spell which only ended when a penalty was conceded. Tasman won the scrum and put replacement centre David Havili on a line close to the posts and from the rucks halfback Billy Guyton scored.

Inevitably, Canterbury struck back, although it was a knock-on from the re-start by Guyton that allowed a platform to be rebuilt and Mo'unga used his acceleration off the mark to prise open the defence for his second try, in the 60th minute.

Tasman didn't know they were expected to stop as they applied pressure on Canterbury in their 22m area and a desperate clearing kick from Mo'unga did not make much ground and having placed Guyton in the front of the lineout, replacement hooker Jesse MacDonald threw the ball to him and he drove ahead.

Then from the ruck, MacDonald ducked around to the open side to score.

Again, Canterbury hit straight back and it was Mo'unga demonstrating another skill when popping a delayed short pass for replacement flanker Billy Harmon to put the issue beyond doubt. That was exacerbated when Viliami Lolohea broke through only to lose the ball as he attempted to ground it over the line.

Scorers: Canterbury 43 (David McDuling, Nathan Earle, Richie Mo'unga 2, Rob Thompson, Billy Harmon tries; Jordie Barrett 5 con, pen) Tasman 27 (Shannon Frizzell, Billy Guyton tries; Marty Banks 2 pen, 2 con). HT: 22-13