Canterbury thump Counties Manukau to retain the Ranfurly Shield (Video)
Nope, that wasn't a replay of Canterbury walloping Southland last Friday night.
But it was the red and blacks again defending the Ranfurly Shield in emphatic fashion, this time with a crunching 78-5 win against Counties Manukau in Christchurch.
Their incredible 43-point first half onslaught at AMI Stadium on Wednesday night followed on from the 61 points they racked up in the second half of their 78-20 annihilation of the Stags.
Last week it was wing Braydon Ennor bagging four tries, this week it was halfback Mitchell Drummond doing the same as the reigning champions notched their fifth consecutive bonus point win to start the season.
Drummond, who split the halfback duty with Bryn Hall for the Crusaders this year, had never crossed for four tries in a match before.
"Nah, I haven't got anywhere near it. I was pretty lucky, the boys looked after me tonight," he said.
"I don't score many tries. I was pretty lucky tonight. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Defending the Shield for the fifth time (including pre-season games) this year, means only Waikato and Taranaki can deny the rampant Cantabrians from locking up the Log o' Wood for summer.
The 73-point win was Canterbury's biggest ever against Counties, and their 139th Shield defence in team history. Only Auckland (148) has more.
While Canterbury coach Glenn Delaney had plenty to smile about, Counties counterpart Darryl Suasua cut a dejected figure post match.
Most frustrating for him was the fact his team effectively dug their own grave after coming out of the gates and failing to execute their plans.
"Some of our key game controllers had driven a bit of a plan and it was some of the key guys who didn't actually execute. So I sort of got into them a little bit and said we've got to get out there and show a bit of pride," Suasua said of his halftime speech.
"We can either sit back and dwell on it, or we can get into the boys, give them a kick up the pants and get back on the horse and try and get this win against Hawke's Bay [on Sunday]."
Some of the gloss was taken off Canterbury's win by a knee injury to captain Luke Whitelock, who hobbled off early in the second half and will be assessed on Thursday.
But that was about the only thing the Canterbury faithful could complain about.
Their side ran in 11 tries to one, with vice-captain and centre Tim Bateman grabbing his second try four minutes into the second half to put his side 50-0 up.
"He's like a fine wine, isn't he? Delaney said after Bateman scored a hat-trick.
"He just keeps getting better and better. He put the hammer down there in the middle of the pitch and showed the young fellas he's got the pace."
In the middle of their "storm week" (three games in 10 days), Delaney had the luxury of going to the bench early.
Ennor, who has just signed a two-year deal with the Crusaders, again showed what a talent he is with his 20th minute try.
The 20-year-old did brilliantly well to swap the ball between hands in mid-flight, as he expertly dived over inside the corner flag.
As most of Canterbury's tries were, Ennor's try was the result of slick passing and a backline launching off a fine platform set by their forwards.
On the other side of the ledger, Counties battled to string anything together.
If they weren't missing tackles, they were fluffing passes, having kicks charged down or giving up penalties.
They finally got on the board in the 47th minute courtesy of wing Nigel Ah Wong, but the game was well and truly in the bin by then.
Semifinalists a year ago, Counties have won just one of their first five matches to start the season and are dead last in the premiership section of the competition.
Drummond scored his bag of tries in the first half, including two inside the first 10 minutes as Canterbury scored more than a point a minute in the first half.
His first was the final product of a sparkling run from pivot Richie Mo'unga, who broke Tim Nanai-Williams' tackle attempt, before offloading for Bateman and Drummond to finish.
The halfback's second came via a lovely offload by big lock Dominic Bird, who flicked a pass out the back door after breaking Counties open.
Mo'unga kicked 23 points (10 conversions and a penalty) in the romp.
Canterbury, whose next Shield defence is against Waikato on September 30, has scored 278 points in their five games this season.
Canterbury 78 (Mitchell Drummond 4, Braydon Ennor, Tim Bateman 3, Rob Thompson, Poasa Waqanibau, Josh McKay tries; Richie Mo'unga pen, 10 con) Counties Manukau 5 (Nigel Ah Wong try; ) HT: 43-0