Red cards to each side mar Canterbury win

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Saturday, October 6, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

A fifth-minute red card issued by referee James Doleman, who had a busy night, to Taranaki lock Jarrad Hoeata for a punch to Canterbury flanker Tom Christie's head in an elongated scuffle marred the game. 

Canterbury didn't escape unscathed and also lost replacement prop Daniel Lienert-Brown for a head butt on Taranaki hooker Ricky Riccitelli in the 53rd minute. But by then Canterbury were secure because Canterbury had been quick to take advantage of their extra man.

Taranaki, down 0-24 at halftime, also found themselves on the wrong end of the penalty count being down 1-9 .

But Taranaki decided the only way they could go was to produce the best defensive effort possible and the effectiveness they achieved was not reflected in the final score. They scrapped the whole way, making like especially difficult in the third quarter, the phase in which Liernert-Brown was sent off.

However, with Romano worked up and popping up in all sorts of places throughout the game to provide key passes and impetus at just the right time, and Ennor thriving on the quality of ball received, there was little Taranaki could do once Canterbury got their head in the final quarter.

The points were not long coming after Hoeata's expulsion when in the 12th minute, halfback Mitch Drummond took full toll from a ruck following a lineout drive by scooting around the unprotected side in the time-honoured fashion for any halfback with an eye for a chance.

Connor Garden-Bachop marked his first start for the side when being fed into clear space from a backline movement given thrust by second five-eighths Sam Beard on the double round Ennor who sucked in the defence to set up the chance.

Then more Canterbury pressure in the red zone saw the home tight forwards move the ball like backs to create a chance for flanker Billy Harmon to score out wide.

Taranaki enjoyed their best phase of the game in the third quarter, aided by wing Ngane Punivai being ruled to have put a foot in touch just before touching down for a try in the first moments of the half.

But determined Canterbury defence, itself reduced to 14 while No.8 Hugh Renton was in the sin-bin, held Taranaki out. However, the frustration was apparent after Lienert-Brown gor his red card after retaliating to a push in the back from Riccitelli.

Punivai had better luck in the 69th minute after first five-eighths Brett Cameron initiated a move from his own goalline, stepping defenders and setting in train play which saw centre Braydon Ennor slice into wide open real estate, draw the solitary defence Seta Tamanivalu, and give Punivai the run in to the corner.

That was only moments after second five-eighths Sam Beard capitalised on another breakout by Canterbury and a centre kick by fullback George Bridge to break the second half deadlock.

Taranaki finally had some reward, albeit from an intercept when replacement back Jayson Potroz latched onto a pass just on Taranaki's 10m line and cleared out for his side's sole reward from a gutsy second half.

It was fitting that Romano and Ennor combined to post the final try of the game, Romano charging up the centre and then flinging an outrageous 20m pass to the outside where Ennor took the ball and rounded a defender to score in the corner.

Scorers: Canterbury 41 (Mitchell Drummond, Connor Garden-Bachop, Billy Harmon, Sam Beard, Ngane Punivai, Braydon Ennor tries; Brett Cameron 4 con, pen) Taranaki 7 (Jayson Potroz try; Beaudein Waaka con). HT: 24-0