Clinical Cantabs give Auks six of the best
Canterbury served notice on the defending champions with a stunning display as they clinically dismantled Auckland in the feature Air New Zealand Cup third round match in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Canterbury created many more opportunities than the blue and whites and converted most of them to score six tries to none in a stunning 34-3 demolition.
Both sides have made unconvincing starts to their campaigns, and entered the match boasting identical one-win, one-loss records.
But Canterbury were clearly the better team, their enthusiasm, desire and clarity of thought and action far outstripping what the northerners had to offer.
Canterbury led 10-0 at halftime on the back of tries to fullback Paul Williams and left wing James Paterson.
The home side shaded Auckland throughout the first spell thanks to their superior set piece, with their lineout, in particular, causing the visitors all sorts of bother.
Canterbury made their advantage in that area pay, too, as they hustled and bustled Auckland around the fringes to fully deserve their advantage.
Captain Kieran Read set up the first try in the 12th minute when the blindside flanker picked up the ball at a ruck near the Auckland 22, thrust himself through a gap and offloaded to Williams, who had a clear run to the line.
They were gifted the second eight minutes before the break when Auckland fullback Jamie Helleur was unable to gather in a chip ahead. The ball fell at the feet of Williams, who toed it ahead for Paterson to score.
Between those two tries Auckland were denied one of their own by some magnificent defence from Canterbury second five-eighth Tim Bateman.
Jamie Helleur pulled off an intercept near his own 22 and hared off upfield, only to be dragged to the ground just short of the tryline by Bateman, who determinedly ran close to 70m to pull off the tackle.
Colin Slade, Canterbury's fourth choice first five-eighth, created his team's third try 15 minutes into the second half when a deft left-foot chip kick sat up nicely for winger Scott Hamilton.
Slade was in the action again three minutes later when he launched a big run upfield, the move ending when Read offloaded beside ruck for prop Wyatt Crockett to barge over the tryline.
Auckland finally got on the scoreboard via a penalty to Lachie Munro in the 62nd minute but Canterbury stretched their advantage again 10 minutes later when substitute back Ryan Crotty was gifted room on the left after a patient buildup eventually found Auckland wanting for numbers on defence.
Canterbury completed the one-sided contest when substitute hooker Steve Fualau scored their sixth try after being driven over the line less than one minute from fulltime.
Canterbury 34: Paul Williams, James Paterson, Scott Hamilton, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Steve Fualau tries; Colin Slade 2 con
Auckland 3: Lachie Munro pen.