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Taylor punishes Counties with boot.

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Lynn McConnell     23 Aug 2015     Getty Images

It was a draining affair with Counties Manukau testing Canterbury to the fullest.

Canterbury finally got over the goal-line, even if it took a ruling from the TMO, in the 49th minute, when Counties Manukau were reduced to 14 men as a result of prop Pauliasi Manu being sin-binned for a late swinging tackle on second five-eighths Ryan Crotty.

Having landed a penalty goal from the incident, Canterbury got back on attack and in spite of losing the ball from a lineout after a penalty kick to the corner, Canterbury won a scrum and it was No.8 and skipper Luke Whitelock who was ruled to have got the ball over the line.

But as Canterbury looked to put distance between itself and the opposition, a long pass thrown by replacement back Rob Thompson didn't find its intended mark and it was into the hands of Counties Manukau centre Sam Vaka and he cleared out to pull them back within two points once the conversion had been landed.

However, when discipline was needed to provide optimum hope of pulling off an upset, Counties Manukau continued to give away penalties, and with so many within goal-kicking distance, it allowed home fullback Tom Taylor to continue knocking over penalty goals. He ended with five out of six attempts successful

It said plenty of the defensive nature of the first half that only one try was scored, and that was a runaway after Canterbury dropped the ball in the Counties Manukau 22m area.

The visitors' defence was outstanding during the first half and they had to put in tackle after tackle to fight the Canterbury tide and they were successful. Canterbury tried all manner of tactics and ploys to attempt to open up the Counties Manukau line but there was no way through.

It was inevitable after so much effort that a simple mistake in this instance a pass from first five-eighths Richard Mo'unga that was unable to be pulled in by hooker Ben Funnell that provided the try-scoring chance.

Counties Manukau fullback Jared Page was onto the ball in a flash and set sail for the goal-line 80m distant. Wing Patrick Osborne offered a chase and while he got the tackle in, it was just as Page dived for the line to score.

However, the defensive demands imposed by Canterbury resulted in infringements by Counties Manukau which resulted in two penalty goals to Taylor to claim a half-time lead of 6-5.

There was a long delay in the last five minutes when Canterbury replacement back Tom Sanders had to be assisted from the field after being hit hard when attempting to make a tackle.

Counties Manukau created a late chance after blindside wing Toni Pulu joined the line and got through to link with replacement Jonathan Faauli but his pass outside was dropped by replacement Nathan de Thierry.

Canterbury ensured the game was played out in the Counties Manukau half, but not before the visitors carried play on past the final hooter with nearly three minutes of determined running which fully stretched the Canterbury energy.

But they held on and in the end claimed a deserved win.

Scorers: Canterbury 20 (Luke Whitelock try; Tom Taylor 5 pen) Counties Manukau 15 (Jared Page, Sam Vaka tries; Piers Francis con, pen ). HT: 6-5