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Stacked Canterbury side downs North Harbour in Mitre 10 Cup opener

A stacked Canterbury side clinched victory in the opening match of the Mitre 10 Cup season last night, downing North Harbour 43-29 in Auckland.

Codie Taylor dives over for a try during a Mitre 10 Cup rugby match between North Harbour and Canterbury at North Harbour Stadium, Auckland. Source: Photosport

Bolstered by six All Blacks, compared to North Harbour's one, Canterbury were always the odds-on favourite.

It was their wealth of talent that proved to be the difference in the end, with four of their six tries coming from All Blacks.

Their presence was felt immediately with Codie Taylor muscling his way over the line in the eighth minute in true front-row fashion.

A well worked set-piece saw midfielder Rameka Poihipi bust through the Harbour line to add to the Canterbury points tally in the 26th minute.

New All Black Cullen Grace also dotted down late in the first half.

The 40 minutes of action saw the lead change hands multiple times however; it was North Harbour who held a 22-21 lead going into the second half.

Harbour's slim lead was attributed to the boot of Bryn Gatland, who kicked five penalties in the opening half and a conversion from the try of Ngarohi McGarvey-Black in the 28th minute.

Canterbury immediately snatched the lead back in the 43rd minute with a penalty kick and held control for the rest of the match.

Isaiah Punivai grabbed a stunning intercept off a lofted Harbour pass to cruise over the line for Canterbury's fourth.

In stark contrast to his first, Taylor, standing unmarked on the wing, bagged his second try in the 62th minute, after linking up with Crusaders teammate Richie Mo’unga via a cross-field kick.

Walter Fifita would provide a glimmer of hope for Harbour, bringing the margin down to just seven points, but George Bridge would deliver the final blow in the dying minutes to put the game well out of reach.

Canterbury take on Taranaki in Christchruch next week, where they will look to defend the Ranfurly Shield.

Canterbury 43 (Tries: Codie Taylor 2, Rameka Poihipi, Cullen Grace, Isaiah Punivai, George Bridge; Brett Cameron 3 con, 1 pen, Richie Mo’unga 2 con) North Harbour 29 (Tries: Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Walter Fifita tries; Bryn Gatland 5 pen, 2 con)