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Canterbury hand Otago first NPC loss

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/09/2016

Otago have suffered their first loss of the NPC season, outclassed 45-34 by Canterbury in a cross-over match in Christchurch.

Previously the only unbeaten team in the competition, Otago will retain their lead in the second-tier championship division.

Canterbury hold onto the lead in the premiership competition, bouncing back from their first loss last weekend when they were stunned by Manawatu.

It was a timely return to form for the defending champions, who challenge Waikato for the Ranfurly Shield in Hamilton on Wednesday.

However, the defending champions will be concerned at a leaky defence which allowed the southerners to cross for four tries, including three in the final quarter after having led 38-13.

Reserves Teihorangi Walden and Naulia Dawai and No.8 Paul Grant crossed late for the visitors, who face Premiership opponents Auckland and Counties Manukau during the next two weeks.

Canterbury scored four of their seven tries in the first half, with the best of them a superb effort from flanker Billy Harmon, set up by fullback Jordie Barrett.

They have scored 261 points in six games and remain firm favourites to win their eighth title in the last nine seasons.

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