Mitre 10 Cup: Auckland top Canterbury to remain perfect in 2018

Auckland have kept their 2018 perfect record intact with a 34-29 win over Canterbury in Christchurch.

The five-point win is the blue-and-white's first in the Garden City since 2007 and cements Auckland's spot atop the Mitre 10 Cup premiership ladder, ahead of Wellington and Canterbury.

The result was more convincing than the margin would suggest, with the red-and-blacks running in two tries in the last two minutes to earn two bonus points for their efforts.

After the frustrations of recent years for an Auckland side that were in danger of relegation last year, 2018 has brought memories of yesteryear.

Captain TJ Faiane was a standout for his side, scoring a hat-trick, as Auckland turned a 22-15 lead into 34-15 with a couple of minutes remaining.

Auckland dominated the breakdown in the early stages, with referee Nick Briant growing increasingly agitated by the red-and-blacks' infringing at ruck time.

Number eight Akira Ioane played a central role in that area, along with lock Jack Whetton.

Faiane had completed his triple dose of five-pointers within the first 48 minutes, his third the result of an audacious play from Auckland five-eighth Harry Plummer.

The number 10 cross-kicked from his goal-line, after a sustained period of play from Canterbury, finding wing Melani Nanai, who flung a pass infield that was taken by centre Tumua Manu to carry play forward.

Nanai then made another bust, linking with Manu down the sideline to pass inside to Faiane, who ran 30m, before crashing over for the try in the tackle.

Canterbury had the satisfaction of a strong finish, scoring tries to replacements, prop Chris King and hooker Brodie McAlister.

Canterbury 29 (Greg Pleasants-Tate, Sef Fa'agase, Chris King, Brodie McAlister tries; Brett Cameron 3 con, pen) Auckland 34 (TJ Faiane 3, Jonathan Ruru, Tumua Manu tries; Harry Plummer 3 con, pen).

HT: 22-15