Canterbury send out ominous warning

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Lynn McConnell     18 Aug 2017     Getty Images

Canterbury's depth of resource and institutional nous was highlighted in the way their latest issue picked up where last season's side left off with an ominous display.

Holding Tasman scoreless, in spite of their long periods attempting to batter down the Canterbury ramparts, was a demonstration of Canterbury's intent, and execution.

Canterbury hit the game at the sort of speed normally associated with Usain Bolt in his prime and the Tasman defence was fully stretched from the start. Centre Tim Bateman made two incisive runs and the Tasman line was hammered until a scrum after the ball was held up in goal.

That opened up a simple blindside move for No.8 Luke Whitelock who found halfback Mitch Drummond. He passed to fullback George Bridge who put his try scoring prowess earned with the Crusaders to use when corkscrewing his way through tackles for the opening try seven minutes into the game.

Canterbury's defence, in spite of conceding a string of penalties which should have provided at least three kicking chances, denied Tasman any try scoring chances.

Tasman's best opportunity came when halfback Finlay Christie decided that first five-eighths Mitchell Hunt's goal-kicking wasn't sufficiently on song so he tapped and run a penalty which resulted in wing Tima Faingaanuku kicking into the in-goal area.

The ball had touched a Canterbury player on the way through so Tasman had a five-metre scrum and while they attempted a series of pick-and-goes it ended up being a pick-and-went.

Canterbury put a big tackle on hooker Andrew Makalio and he spilled the ball which was seized by Bateman. He raced into space and passed to wing Josh McKay who found Bridge outside him. Bridge kicked ahead but the ball rolled into touch, 70m from where Tasman had busted their gut trying to find a way through.

Inevitably, Canterbury landed another penalty goal, with first five-eighths Mo'unga the direct opposite of Hunt in terms of accuracy and then from another penalty chance, a kick to the corner resulted in a lineout take by lock Mitchell Dunshea which allowed the Canterbury maul to roll over the line for fellow lock Dominic Bird to score.

Tasman took a leaf from Canterbury's book when starting the second half with a wet sail as their loose forwards Pete Samu, Shannon Frizell and Ethan Blackadder charged ahead almost looking for collisions wherever they might be available.

But the enveloping Canterbury defence denied them reward and promoted a degree of panic from Tasman as they struggled for openings.

Canterbury second five-eighths Rob Thompson and Bateman were a constant menace in rushing defence, although the timing of them and some of their support players was over-exuberant resulting in too many penalties.

The difference when Canterbury turned resistance to attack was marked, the directness and close quarter support among the champions where Whitelock, Jed Brown and Tom Sanders were effective while Bird wasn't far from the ball in partnership with hooker Ben Funnell.

Eventually, in the 67th minute, a fourth chance to score was finally taken from a five-metre scrum and it was the skipper Whitelock who crossed.

That opened the floodgates with Thompson scoring after a key turnover from a tackle on Tasman prop Alex Hodgman with five minutes left while just before fulltime Dunshea capped his efforts on the night with a deserved try..

Scorers: Tasman 0 Canterbury 39 (George Bridge, Dominic Bird, Luke Whitelock, Rob Thompson, Mitchell Dunshea tries; Richie Mo'unga 3 con, 2 pen; Brett Cameron con). HT: 0-20