At last there was some New Year cheer for Canterbury as they ended a run of four losses with this bonus point victory. But not before they put themselves and their supporters nerves through the shredder by letting a comfortable 22-point lead slip badly in the second half. In a roller coaster contest the city side, reduced to fourteen men for the final ten minutes by a yellow card for flanker Seb Clark, then beat the odds by creating two outstanding tries to close out a win that lifts them back into eighth place in National 2 South.
In all they scored seven tries, three of them going to elusive full back Aiden Moss, while Alex Miller, in only his second start, brought accuracy to the goal kicking with five conversions and a long range penalty goal.
Canterbury’s final flourish was in stark contrast to the opening ten minutes of the match when Redcliffians looked far from the relegation candidates they currently are. Their pace and continuity made two tries for wing Ezra Caven and with a conversion by Ashley Groves opened a twelve point lead.
A city side showing many of the flaws of the past month were not helped by injuries to Kieran Thompson and Jamie Stephens but by the end of the first quarter they had found a way back. Hooker Tom Rogers try rounded off a strong driving maul from a lineout and although Miller hit the post with his conversion attempt he soon made amends with a 40 metre penalty goal,
By half time Canterbury were ten points ahead through two more high quality tries. Moss made his first decisive impact when quick handling released him down the left wing channel and he wrong footed the defence with a swerve and sprint to the posts. Next Miller, operating on the wing in a reshuffled back line, called for a cross field kick and Dan Smart weighted it perfectly for him to collect and score.
The question, as always at the Marine Travel Ground, was whether the breeze and slope would tilt the odds in Redcliffians favour but Canterbury discounted that with a blazing start to the second half. Moss ghosted between two defenders to claim the bonus point try and Smart’s clean break set up a fifth for wing Barney Howard. With the scoreboard reading 34-12 the game should have been in the bag. However, a spirited Redcliffians, hungry for anything they could salvage, stormed their way back into the reckoning. Number Eight Ethan Doyle was the catalyst, powering over himself then a setting up Dan Fry for his side’s fourth touch down.
Canterbury played into the visitors hands by taking too many risks when they should have kept it tight and disciplined. With Groves adding two conversions and a penalty goal to the visitors account the city side were just five points in front when Clark was sin binned, but then rediscovered themselves. JJ Murray picked a great line to score from Charlie Kingsman’s inside flick and the replacement fly half then made the break which led to Moss completing his hat trick . It gave Canterbury both relief and breathing space.
Canterbury: A.Moss, K.Thompson (repl F.Morgan), JJ Murray, A.Miller, B.Howard, D.Smart, K.Braithwaite (repl C.Kingsman), A.Cooper,T.Rogers (repl J.Otto), S.Kenny (repl J.Green), L Whetton, M.Corker, J.Stephens (repl J.Rigby), S.Clark, M.Cantwell