Match Reports

Canterbury bring home the ITM Cup

Canterbury have beaten Wellington by 29 points to 13 to give them a record-setting sixth consecutive Premiership title. It was classic finals footy at Wellington’s windy Westpac Stadium, with both teams showing why they deserved to be the last two standing.

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Canterbury winger Patrick Osborne and halfback Andy Ellis both played starring roles in the win and combined in impressive fashion to put the first points on the board. A wayward kick from Wellington halfback Frae Wilson was gathered by Osborne who put in a tidy grubber kick, re-gathered and then offloaded to Andy Ellis for the try. Tom Taylor converted to give Canterbury an early seven points.

It was Wellington doing most of the attacking in the first half though, and that eventually resulted in enough points to give them the lead. Wellington first five Lima Sopoaga took a penalty kick first to put them on the board. Then, although Canterbury’s defence appeared virtually impenetrable, Sopoaga eventually found a gap in the 35th minute and converted his own try to put them ahead by 10 points to 3 at the halftime break.

The tables turned in the second half to see Canterbury dominating play in Wellington’s half. It was only a matter of time before that translated to points, and it was second five Ryan Crotty who added five to put Canterbury back in front.

It was mixed fortunes for two of Canterbury’s newest All Blacks, with both Joe Moody and Luke Whitelock dotting down but having the TMO rule that they were short of the line. Moody’s attempt also resulted in him having to leave the field with a fractured fibula.

Canterbury’s next attempt also looked like it might fall just short when Adam Whitelock was pulled down just in front of the line. But Tyler Bleyendaal managed to get his hands on the ball and give it the few extra inches it needed. Taylor converted the try and Canterbury were nine points ahead with twenty minutes left to play.

Sopoaga brought the home side back within six points with an off-side penalty, but Taylor reciprocated a few minutes later, so with just ten minutes now left on the clock Wellington were going to need more than a converted try to take the match.

It was Canterbury who took the next try though, after reserve hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone broke through the Wellington defence and powered towards the line, passing to captain George Whitelock for a fitting final try in the last seconds of the game.

It was probably a tighter final that the 29-13 score-line suggests, but Canterbury definitely earned the win with their staunch defence and clinical attack. The defending champions have further cemented their place as the best in provincial rugby and the ITM Cup is back in Canterbury for the sixth year running.

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