Canterbury face test of grit against Waikato
The true nature of the Canterbury NPC side looks set to be tested this week as they attempt to bounce back from a disappointing Ranfurly Shield loss to Taranaki on the weekend.
The key will be not only winning against Waikato on Sunday, but also turning in a far more superior performance across the paddock than what was on display on Saturday afternoon.
“It was really disappointing because we played poorly," assistant coach Scott Robertson said yesterday. “If we had played well and lost you can swallow that, but our standards that we have had over the years weren't quite reached.
“Don't get me wrong, the effort was huge, it was the execution and accuracy that let us down."
Canterbury is third on the premiership points table, but with both Auckland and Waikato nipping at their heels each week is growing more important if they are to make a bid for their fifth consecutive title.
And while the loss to Taranaki was disappointing, Robertson said it could work in the favour of the Canterbury side, who have already shown they are capable of correcting their mistakes this season.
They were humbled in the opening round of the competition by Tasman, but went on from that to win their next three games - two of which came within a week of the first-up loss.
“I think we can bounce back. We did it against Tasman. We have just got to get our heads down and move on from the Shield challenge."
In Waikato, Canterbury can expect a physical encounter, the two sides met in the final of the premiership division of the National Provincial Championship last year with Canterbury claiming the title 12-3.
Add to that a loss for Waikato last week to Wellington and two scorned sides meeting will make for an intriguing battle.
“They are a team that are desperate as well, but for us it's about our ability to come back and play good football.
“Sure we've hit a speed bump, but we just have to carry on down that road and do what we are doing well, well, and proceed to make a chance at five titles in a row."
On the injury front - Patrick Osborne is out for the season with a broken shoulder bone, but news is looking a lot healthier for Tom Taylor who was in serious doubt after the weekend.
As well as carrying a slight injury which kept him from kicking on the weekend, Taylor suffered a foot injury which was initially thought to be a broken bone.
But the influential fullback took part in training yesterday and looked to be getting over the ground well. With eight days in between matches he is expected to take his place in Hamilton on Sunday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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