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Canterbury defend NPC title in style

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/10/2016

Richie Mo'unga of Canterbury runs through to score a try during the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final match against Tasman at AMI Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Christchurch © Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images Richie Mo'unga of Canterbury runs through to score a try during the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final match against Tasman at AMI Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Christchurch Slippery playmaker Richie Mo'unga has inspired Canterbury to yet another NPC title, starring in their 43-27 win over Tasman in the Premiership final.

First five-eighth Mo'unga scored two tries and set up three others as the defending champions snared a remarkable eighth title in nine seasons.

An all-Crusaders region final in Christchurch was dominated by the efficiency and ruthlessness of the hosts, whose 13th NPC crown leaves them three behind Auckland on the overall ladder.

It was the second final defeat in three seasons for Tasman, who lost the 2014 decider to Taranaki.

It took 45 seconds for them to cede the advantage, when Canterbury's Australian lock David McDuling charged down a clearance from Tasman No.10 Marty Banks to score.

English winger Nathan Earle went across soon afterwards in a move which twice featured Mo'unga before Tasman enjoyed their best period, soon after Earle was shown a yellow card for a professional foul.

NPC leading pointscorer Banks landed two penalties and converted a try to flanker Shannon Frizell to put them 13-12 ahead.

Crusaders pivot Mo'unga then scored the try of the game, scything through from 40m out and leaving a series of defenders in his wake on a weaving run.

Centre Jordie Barrett slotted a penalty to put Canterbury 22-13 up at halftime, with Tasman lock Alex Ainley have been sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle soon before the break.

The teams exchanged alternate second-half converted tries but Tasman never got within nine points of the lead.

Canterbury's additional tryscorers were second five-eighth Rob Thompson and reserve flanker Billy Harman while Mo'unga bagged his second.

Halfback Billy Guyton and reserve hooker Jesse MacDonald crossed for Tasman.

The result ends an enviable tenure for Canterbury coach Scott Robertson, who is leaving to coach the Crusaders next year. Robertson secured five titles as Canterbury assistant coach and three in the head role.

It was the last Canterbury outing for fullback Johnny McNicholl and his 100th first class game before he takes up a contract with Welsh club Scarlets.

The prolific Banks is also leaving, for Italian club rugby.

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