Canterbury unfazed by busy NPC week
Rest, review and recharge; that's the game plan for Canterbury this week after a hectic eight days on the rugby field.
The national provincial rugby championship's defending champs rounded out their three-game first week with a confident 36-3 victory over North Harbour at AMI Stadium on Saturday.
Following a loss to Tasman and win against Auckland midweek, the Canterbury side which took to the field on Saturday produced by far the best performance of the week. And despite being sluggish for the opening 40 minutes of the match, the red and blacks were anything but in the second stanza running in four unanswered tries to demolish their Harbour opposition.
That was enough to put a smile on the face of coach Tabai Matson who was full of praise for his side after the busy week.
“The potential was there for this game to be a train wreck for us," Matson said.
“It's been a big week, and when we sat down at the start of the season to look at our programme this was one game we labelled as being tough. But the guys put their hands up, they were given a massive mental opportunity and a chance to just be tough and they achieved that."
As his team continues to gel and take the shape of a well-drilled and together unit, Matson's biggest concern is keeping the feet on the ground and making sure everyone is still playing with the same common goal.
As a team things have gone to another level over the past week, but it can still be dangerous territory.
“It's always good to win, and it's easy to be mates when you're winning too. But it's not until you get knocked over or when you struggle a bit that the real togetherness comes out. At the moment though we are playing well and the guys are playing for each other, so we are pretty tight-knit bunch."
The Canterbury backs stole the show in the second half, running riot over the North Harbour side.
Johnny McNicholl again hinted he would look comfortable in a Super Rugby squad with his workrate and he was well rewarded for his efforts with two good tries.
Attention now turns to Wellington on Saturday in Christchurch, a game which they will be pleased to have a quiet build-up to.
“This week should be good, it's the first week we have been able to prepare properly.
“We will train normally, and get a good chance to look at the Wellington footage from their games so far and our pre-season match against them. They are in really good form so we need to go to another level again."
Canterbury 36 (Johnny McNicholl 2, Robbie Fruean, Nasi Manu, Andy Ellis tries; Tom Taylor 4conv, pen)
North Harbour 3 (Bryn Hall pen)
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