Canterbury stunning in Stags demolition
The machine that can be Canterbury rugby kicked into full gear this afternoon with a 84-0 demolition of Southland at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Playing in front of a strong home crowd of 9000 people, a pleasing figure considering the closeness of the All Blacks test prior to the match, Canterbury were the best they have been all season, although Southland were mediocre at best.
Things were especially bad for the southerners in the opening half of the match with Canterbury running in seven tries in what was a very Crusader like performance.
They brought a new level of intensity to their game and played with such a pace that Southland were often left flat footed.
Tabai Matson's experiment with Tom Taylor at first-five worked well with the natural No 10 Taylor at real ease in the position and his kicking game was again flawless slotting all 12 of his conversion attempts.
Matson's decision to give Luke Whitelock a start at No 8 was rewarded with the youngest of the talented brothers having a verystrong match in the loose forwards.
The two sides traded blows for the opening 10 minutes of the match before Johnny McNicholl produced some magic to put Willi Heinz in under the posts.
McNicholl took the ball blind and looked to have been wrapped up by the Southland defence but somehow broke his way through before off loading to Heinz.
Winger Telusa Veainu added to the score lines shortly after with two quick tries of his own.
The first came courtesy of an intercept and a 40 metre dash to the line and the second came on the back of a run down the touchline by Robbie Fruean before the ball was spread wide to the Highlanders player who beat three defenders to cross over untouched.
His double was followed up by tries to Paea Fa'anunu, Fruean, McNicholl and Adam Whitelock and Canterbury went to the break a very happy group of men.
After such a high scoring opening half it surprisingly took 20 minutes for any action in the second stanza with McNicholl grabbing his second in stylish fashion.
Nasi Manu then burrowed his way over to score before McNicholl sliced his way through again to score his third of the match.
Paea Fa'anunu was dubiously awarded Canterbury's 11th try of the match despite it looking as though he had lost control of the ball as he went to ground it.
Captain George Whitelock got the final say of the match scoring right on the full time buzzer.
The result sees Canterbury maintain their position in fourth on the championship points table with a game in hand on Wellington and Auckland who are in front of them.
They now face Northland on Friday night while Southland face competition leaders Taranki on Sunday in Invercargill.
Canterbury 84 (Johnny McNicholl 3, Telusa Veainu 2, Paea Fa'anunu 2, Willi Heinz, Robbie Fruean, Adam Whitelock, Nasi Manu, George Whitelock tries; Tom Taylor 12 con) Southland 0. HT: 49-0
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