Mitre 10 Cup: Canterbury edge North Harbour in hard-fought opener to season

A try-double for Codie Taylor, aided by some trademark brilliance from Richie Mo'unga has seen Canterbury top North Harbour in the opening game of the Mitre 10 Cup.

But the underdog home side pushed the red and blacks all the way at North Harbour Stadium, taking a halftime lead before succumbing 43-29 as the class of Canterbury shone through.

Taylor's second try proved the turning point of the match to give the Ranfurly Shield holders a 14-point lead midway through the second spell.

A piece of visionary brilliance from All Balck star Mo'unga created the opportunity when his perfectly weighted cross-kick found the waiting arms of Taylor who dotted down to score.

Mo'unga provided the spark needed for Canterbury with the game well and truly in the balance when he entered play just before the hour mark.

While there weren't any mesmerising runs or trademark passing miracles, but his experience and cerebral decision making proved the difference.

Canterbury opened the scoring through Taylor in the seventh minute off the back of a lineout drive, but Harbour kept chipping away through the educated boot of Bryn Gatland who was perfect on the night, landing seven from seven. 

New All Black Cullen Grace gave Canterbury a handy 14-9 lead with 10 to play in the first half, before New Zealand sevens star Ngarohi McGarvey-Black's pace surprised Josh Mckay as the electric winger scored his first try for the province.

Canterbury scored again through Rameka Poihipi, but Gatland's penalty goal right on halftime gave Harbour a one-point lead at the break.

The Cantabs scored the first 17-points of the second spell with Brett Cameron kicking a penalty goal before rookie centre Isiah Punivai's intercept broke the game open. 

Mo'unga's magic moment happened a few minutes later and Canterbury appeared on track for a comfortable win.

But Harbour ensured a grandstand finish was on the cards when winger Walter Fifita scored with eight to play, but George Bridge's reply moments later sealed a first-up win for Canterbury.

Canterbury 43 (Taylor x2, Bridge, Punivai, Grace, Pohipi tries, Cameron 3pens 1con, Mo'unga 2con) bt
North Harbour 29 (McGarvey-Black, Fifita tries, Gatland 5pens, 2con) HT 21-22