Canterbury bounce back to end Harbour's run

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Saturday, September 23, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Coming back from the 60 points posted against them by Wellington last week and 21 points by North Harbour in the first half on Saturday, Canterbury dominated the third quarter to secure a match-winning advantage from a home team who could only take a four-try bonus point for their efforts.
Canterbury were put under pressure by the North Harbour scrum, however, issues at the back of the scrum where the liaison between No.8 Hapakuki Moala-Liavaa and halfback Bryn Hall broke down with disastrous consequences, twice yielding tries

North Harbour made the perfect start when wing Matt Duffie crossed after only two minutes. Canterbury centre Tim Bateman lost the ball in a tackle and North Harbour flanker Murphy Taramai was well placed to tidy the ball up and take the tackle. Lock Brandon Nansen picked up the ball and found first five-eighths Bryn Gatland on the left flank.

He ran hard down the line before joined by Duffie who was able to take the in-pass to score.

Canterbury struck back in the 10th minute when first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga, who scored 21 points in the win, made North Harbour pay for a failure at the base of their own scrum when halfback Bryn Hall was off the scrum for a pass only to have Moala-Liavaa fail to take the ball. Canterbury flanker Jed Brown was onto it in a flash for Canterbury to move it through their backs. From the breakdown, just out from the North Harbour line, Mo'unga threw a dummy to open a gap he sped through to score.

But North Harbour showed the spirit that has marked their season when wing Shaun Stevenson, who was a late replacement for Tevita Li, broke when a Canterbury clearing kick failed to find touch. He ran the ball back and North Harbour were able to pressure the line and eventually lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti burrowed low to get through for the try.

Canterbury came back and second five-eighths Rob Thompson was grounded just short of the line and the best they could gain was a penalty goal.

Once again North Harbour responded positively where Moala-Liavaa ran a kick back at Canterbury before linking with Stevenson, fullback Ben Volavola and Moala-Liavaa, who didn't have the legs to get to the line, passed to second five-eighths Harrison Groundwater who scored.

Canterbury suggested a revival in approach just before half-time when hooker Ben Funnell went close to scoring in the corner from a lineout move. However, he was pushed out.

But that was just an appetiser to their assault in the first moments of the second half when scoring two tries in two minutes, both of them the result of poor options taken by Moala-Liavaa. The first was another foul-up at the base of a scrum in their own 22m and it was Bateman who scored.

Then moments later he was back in cover defence to take a Canterbury kick but was unable to clear the ball, and Canterbury swarmed all over the North Harbour defence and halfback Mitch Drummond was on hand to score and take Canterbury to a 24-21 lead.

Further frustration for the home side came in the 57th minute when Canterbury's pressure created space out wide for wing Josh McKay to cross for the bonus point try.

The coup de grace came in the 66th minute when Drummond sniped around a ruck after more Canterbury pressure in the loose after a five-metre scrum resulting from the ball being held up over North Harbour's line.

North Harbour did have the satisfaction of securing a bonus point try when a perfectly-placed Gatland crossfield kick found Stevenson on the outside of McKay and able to cross in the 71st minute.

Scorers: North Harbour 28 (Matt Duffie, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Harrison Groundwater, Shaun Stevenson tries; Bryn Gatland 4 con) Canterbury 41 (Richie Mo'unga, Tim Bateman, Mitch Drummond 2, Josh McKay tries; Mo'unga 5 con, 2 pen). HT: 21-10