Sportal.co.nz 27.Oct.2012Getty Images
It was a record fifth ITM Cup winning season for Canterbury while their key points scorer Tom Taylor broke the record for most points scored in a final, 23, when passing the 20 scored by Andrew Mehrtens and Daniel Carter.
Canterbury had clawed their way ahead with three penalty goals to fullback Tom Taylor after his two-try effort in the first half to give his side a 15-13 lead at the break.
Auckland got back onto attack and were mounting an assault on the line when halfback Alby Mathewson looked to clear the ball from the ruck. He hesitated when referee Glen Jackson said 'No' to Ellis' effort to play the ball and then gave him the freedom with a 'Yes'.
Ellis needed no second invitation and sniped the ball and cleared downfield. Auckland fullback Charles Piutau tried to run the ball out but the ball was turned over in the tackle and Canterbury moved it for centre Robbie Fruean to break the line and then fire a long pass to wing Telusa Veainu for the try which, with Taylor's conversion, took Canterbury to a 31-13 lead.
Auckland forsook the chance to kick for goal to look for seven points but one key chance was lost when Anscombe twice dropped the ball in key attacking situations while his opposite Tyler Bleyendaal was calm and composed while also contributing a crucial dropped goal.
Canterbury unleashed some powerful defence to deny Auckland any chances other than their first and the consolation final try to replacement wing Lolagi Visinia after the final hooter. No.8 Luke Whitelock thrived in the heady atmosphere of the final, enjoying a quality clash with young Auckland opposite Joe Edwards.
Auckland's danger men, fullback Charles Piutau and wing Ben Lam were well contained all night with any incisions quickly wiped out. Canterbury's Fruean had few chances but when he got them he maximised their effect while flanker Matt Todd and halfback Andy Ellis were constant support players.
Auckland had made a blistering start, kicking the ball off to the blindside and then holding on to work the ball towards the line with second five-eighths Hadleigh Parkes, No.8 Joe Edwards and wing Ben Lam all making ground towards the line.
Then it was Lam in close to the ruck who drifted wide and then flicked the back hand ball to Parkes who dived over for the try in the second minute.
From glory to frustration was the story for Parkes who attempted to kick to space only to have the ball run on and over the dead ball line 70m downfield.
Canterbury won a tap penalty in the resulting play and it was centre Robbie Fruean who found room down the sideline to take advantage of a slight hesitation in the Auckland defence to set up the chance for fullback Tom Taylor.
But a lack of communication at a lineout when lock Ali Williams' tap bounced to be picked up by Canterbury with the ball being moved wide and second five-eighths Ryan Crotty's fend creating a chance on the outside for Taylor to race in wide out just on the half-time break.
Canterbury 31 (Tom Taylor 2. Telusa Vaeinu tries, 2 con, 3 pen) Auckland 18 (Hadleigh Parkes, Lolagi Visinia tries; Gareth Anscombe con, 2 pen). HT: 15-13