Dan Carter played 40 minutes upon his return from injury as Canterbury lost 28-26 to Southland in Christchurch.
Carter, fit again after the leg injury he picked up in the Crusaders' Super Rugby final defeat to the Waratahs, started the New Zealand Cup game at flyhalf, and was called into action early to convert Nathaniel Apa's try.
He added two more penalties for the home side as Canterbury led 13-10 before another Carter three-pointer on the stroke of half-time gave his side a little breathing space.
That was job done for Carter, who came off at the interval as he continues his recovery.
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