Ruthless Canterbury crush Mako
By Jonty Dine [Nelson Weekly / Nelson App]
The Mako slumped to its third loss of the season against a rampant Canterbury team in Blenheim this evening. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport
By Jonty Dine
Suggestions that the Canterbury empire may be crumbling were emphatically refuted against the Mako in Blenheim tonight.
Facing the prospect of relegation for the first time in its history, Canterbury put on a clinic at Lansdowne Park to stun the defending champions 29-0.
Tasman’s premiership defence is now under serious threat as Canterbury dominated the Mako across the park, kept scoreless against the red and blacks’ resolute defence.
The loss, Tasman’s third of the season after going unbeaten in 2019, could see them slip as low as fourth in the standings should both Waikato and Wellington pick up wins tomorrow.
Ngane Punivai struck first for the visitors down the left flank inside the opening five minutes to put the Mako straight on the back foot.
The early pressure was further compounded as Mitch Hunt uncharacteristically missed a regulation penalty while Alex Nankivell left the field after just ten minutes with a broken hand.
Brett Cameron pushed Canterbury further ahead with a superb long-range penalty as Tasman struggled to crack the Canterbury defence.
As Canterbury looked set to take a 10-0 half-time lead, Josh McKay inflicted more pain on the Mako with a piece of individual brilliance from 45 metres out.
The flying fullback returned a wayward clearance and eased passed four defenders to score under the sticks and cap a dominant first forty minutes in stunning style.
Andrew Makalio was added to the Mako casualty list shortly after the break before Chay Fihaki inflicted more misery as he snatched an intercept to score Canterbury’s third.
Tasman toiled away bravely but simply couldn’t crack Canterbury’s rock-solid defensive line.
The scoring slowed until the 77th minute when replacement Isaiah Punivai hammered the final nail in with a bonus point try to conclude the dominant performance.
Next Saturday afternoon sees the Mako go under the roof in Dunedin against Otago. Kick off at 4.35pm.
Canterbury 24 (Ngatungan Punivai, Josh McKay, Chay Fihaki, Isaac Punivai tries, Brett Cameron 3 cons, 1 pen) defeated Tasman 0