Hawke's Bay breaks 53-year drought against Canterbury

Tiaan Falcon of Hawke's Bay fends off Canterbury's Waisake Naholo in Christchurch. Photo: Getty...
Tiaan Falcon of Hawke's Bay fends off Canterbury's Waisake Naholo in Christchurch. Photo: Getty Images
Hawke's Bay are five points clear at the top of the NPC Premiership table after a historic 45-26 victory over Canterbury in Christchurch.

The Magpies last win away at Canterbury came way back in 1968 during Hawke's Bay's golden Ranfurly Shield era.

Even the legendary sides of Kel Tremain and co. would struggle to match the roll the province is currently on.

Stand-in skipper Tom Parsons said the key message ahead of the game was to trust the process.

"The boys are starting to really believe, our game plan's working, we're coming up on [defence]," the Hawke's Bay lock said.

Canterbury monopolised possession and territory early but the Magpies defence remained stout over the first 10 minutes.

The hosts had a big advantage at scrum-time though, forcing three penalties for Hawke's Bay collapsing as they set up camp in the red zone.

But the Magpies held firm, and turned the tables on Canterbury when they finally got some ball.

The first time they crossed the 22 metre line they cashed in through a classic lineout drive with lock Geoff Cridge, who grew up in Christchurch, scoring the try in the 21st minute.

Hawke's Bay had their second just a few minutes later when Stacey Ili got on the end of some delightful expansive play.

That sparked Canterbury into life though as Rameka Poihipi scored a try before the half-hour mark after some direct running from his teammates.

The Magpies always looked dangerous in possession though, and first five Lincoln McClutchie won the race after his own kick ahead to restore the 12 point lead.

Danny Toala went under the posts for the bonus point try in the 34th minute after Ere Enari took a penalty quickly to catch his former side off-guard.

Hawke's Bay was in full razzle-dazzle mode on the stroke of halftime for blindside flanker Josh Kaifa's try.

The punishment continued straight after the break with hooker Jacob Devery getting his first NPC try off the back of a rolling maul.

Canterbury finally built some momentum as the game ticked past 50 minutes, but Hawke's Bay's defence remained largely solid once again, making over 160 tackles over the course of the game.

They eventually got their second try in the 55th minute when sustained pressure created space for winger Manasa Mataele to score out wide.

The Fijian flyer turned provider soon after when he teed up Luke Donaldson for Canterbury's third.

Hawke's Bay prop Joe Apikotoa then reacted poorly to a knee from lock Sam Darry, earning a yellow card for tipping the Canterbury player over onto his shoulder.

The Magpies defended well again though, keeping them scoreless until the 70th minute and a long-range Mitchell Gibson try.

Hawke's Bay needed to settle quickly and they did, with a break and wide ball from Tiaan Falcon setting up Jonah Lowe to score.

The replacement fullback Tian Falcon had an unsuccessful penalty shot at goal to shave a few minutes off the clock.

Hawke's Bay will defend the Ranfurly Shield against Waikato at McLean Park next Saturday night.

Canterbury 26 (Poihipi, Mataele, Donaldson, Gibson tries; Burke 1/2 cons, Debrezceni 2/2 cons)
Hawke's Bay 45 (Cridge, Ili, McClutchie, Toala, Kaifa, Devery, Lowe tries; McClutchie 4/6 cons, Falcon 1/1 con, 0/1 pen)
HT: 7-33



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