18 September 2022
Canterbury secured their place in the 2022 National Premiership final, winning 26-18 against a strong Counties-Manukau.
Ten minutes in, Canterbury struck first as Daniel Hartley carried on his form from last week, his ball to Tofilau put the centre in space, and a draw and pass saw Penetito Ilalio go over to give the Bulls the lead.
Counties were looking for a reply and found it through fullback Klayton Waikato who burrowed his way over from dummy-half to score against his former team.
The home side was resilient all game, and they weren’t to be outdone, Hartley again putting another man through the Counties left edge. This time it was five-eight Etilani Pouli finishing a right-side shift, pushing the lead to eight points.
Determined not to let the game get away from them, the visitors put the pressure on Canterbury. Eight minutes from the break Fiohiva Faingaa finished off a tremendous right side shift to bring the game to within a try, as Canterbury went into the sheds up 12-4.
With the first points crucial in the second half, Counties scored first as Jerome Mika grounded the ball after a Lorenzo Filimaua grubber beat multiple defenders. Filimaua was unable to convert again, which brought the game level.
Ilalio again put the home side ahead after Canterbury was able to surge down the field. A right-side shift caught the Counties side on the back foot, and the winger finished off a simple move to retake the lead.
Thirteen minutes from time, Canterbury buffed the lead as Sauni grabbed a short ball and beat four defenders to go over and push the advantage to 10.
Counties hit back no long after with interchange Fatialofa charging over, but the Bulls squashed a late surge as Sauni picked up his second try, seeing the game out 26-18.
Tries: Ilalio x2, Sauni x2, Pouli
Conversions: Hartley 3/5
Tries: Waikato, Faingaa, Mika, Fatialofa
Conversions: Filimaua 1/4