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Canterbury ruthless against gallant Waikato

The defending ITM Cup Premiership champions have recorded their second straight bonus point victory to shoot top of the table, ominously taking apart Waikato 58-27 in Hamilton tonight, the second match of the second week.

While a healthy crowd was at Waikato Stadium for the first home match of the 2014 season for the Mooloo, expectant after the teams vibrant victory against Wellington, the early evening would be about the best province in New Zealand rugby.

Some early parries between the sides were an illusion, as suddenly Canterbury exploded, Johnny McNicholl turned on the afterburners and set up Codie Taylor out wide.

It was an early demonstration as to how dangerous the defending champions can be.

The onslaught didn’t stop, with the visitors spending the early minutes of the opening half camped in Waikato’s half.

After eight phases and plenty of varied play, Patrick Osborne set up Matt Todd with a brilliant flick pass behind his back, putting the flanker over for the score.

It was just seven minutes and already Canterbury had reached double figures despite Tyler Bleyendaal missing both conversions.

The tourists however were on fire, Matt Symons bashed over with nine minutes played, a good scrum led to Todd setting it up, and then the big lock barrelled across.

To say that the Mooloo looked shell-shocked was an understatement, the home team was sitting back on their heels, while Canterbury’s ball carrying and intensity was on display for all to see.

With a quarter of an hour played, Waikato had barely had the ball for a minute, while the red and blacks were moving forward relentlessly.

However despite looking dead and buried early, the home team set up a brilliant response, with Joe Webber scoring after Damian McKenzie kicked down field and set up his winger on the break.

Canterbury would rule possession, but despite staying camped in Mooloo territory, they would give away a penalty, and Waikato would decide to kick for goal despite being 60 metres out.

However enter Albert Nikoro.

He would strike over a brilliant kick, invoking memories of legendary All Blacks kicker Don Clarke, as the hosts began to find more rhythm.

Bleyendaal and McKenzie would trade penalties, before Canterbury earned their bonus point try in the 37th minute.

Replacement Milford Keresoma would dart over with real speed, with some great slicing play from the Crusaders forwards would set it up as the visitors attack came from all quarters.

At 30-13 at halftime Waikato were not completely out of the contest, but needed a good start which they received when Brad Weber scored.

Yet it would be the red and blacks who would again lift, with Bleyendaal scoring after Matt Todd once again drew in defenders and flick passed to the 10 who scored near the posts.

Then Patrick Osborne would get another for Canterbury, captain Willi Heinz – playing a fine skipper’s knock - would make a big break up the middle, while the big back then wrestled his way over.

Weber would score his second but the defending champions would add tries via Jack Goodhue and Tom Sanders, with the reserves adding the seventh and eighth try respectively.

It was the first time in the competition in 2014 that a team had breached the half century, and the fourth time in history that Waikato had conceded such a mark to Canterbury.

Waikato 27

TRIES: Webber, Weber
CONS: McKenzie (3)
PENS: Nikoro, McKenzie

Canterbury 58

TRIES: Taylor, Todd, Symons, Keresoma, Bleyendaal, Osborne, Goodhue, Sanders
CONS: Bleyendaal (2), Heinz (3), Drummond
PENS: Bleyendaal (2)