Canterbury overwhelm Steamers
September 5, 2013
Canterbury continued their march towards a sixth successive ITM Cup title with a classy performance to overwhelm Bay of Plenty Steamers in Rotorua. But they grabbed control only after 35 minutes, at which point the scores were locked 6-6, thereafter scoring six tries to two in the clash of two Premiership teams.
Left winger Milford Keresoma and flanker George Whitelock each bagged two tries for Canterbury while first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal kicked seven goals from as many attempts. Bleyendaal was at the heart of many bright attacking moments as his team unveiled a superior skill level to the hosts, who often hammered away with limited effect.
Bay of Plenty dominated possession and territorial statistics, boosted as they were by a 16-6 penalty count in their favour, but they dropped their guard just before half-time. Keresoma and second five-eighth Ryan Crotty crossed for tries within the space of two minutes, and Canterbury led 20-6 despite having been reduced to 14 men when No.8 Jordan Taufua was sin-binned after persistent team offending.
Bay of Plenty spurned numerous try-scoring chances either side of the break, and Canterbury made them pay again when captain Whitelock scored his first try to claim a 27-6 margin.
Steamers centre Kenny Lynn and No.8 Carl Axtens crossed midway through the second half, but the hosts never pulled within range of a Canterbury side who were lethal off turnovers to score further tries through Keresoma, Whitelock and reserve back Rob Thompson.
Injuries and All Blacks call-ups continue to erode the options available to Canterbury coach Scott Robertson, but a sixth straight title appears well within the team's capabilities given the way his second-string players have started the season: they have scored 153 points and conceded just 47 heading into their fifth-round match at home to Otago.
Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland have each won their opening four matches, creating an early divide on the ITM Cup ladder. Among the chasers are Bay of Plenty, who slumped to a third loss in four matches.
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