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Auckland pip Steamers in high scoring thriller

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Sunday, September 25, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

In a match that belied the wet conditions at Rotorua International Stadium, 12 tries were scored as both teams looked to throw the ball around and play the game at speed. The desperate tactics were indicative of the vital nature of the game for both sides. For Auckland, the win has moved them from sixth to fourth on the Premiership ladder while Bay of Plenty will remain in fifth place in the Championship despite picking up two bonus points.

The Steamers knew they had to start strong to have any chance against one of the Premiership powerhouses, and got it when loose forwards Shahn Eru and Joe Tupe crossed the line to give the home side an early 12-3 lead.

Auckland soon showed their danger when Rieko Ioane crossed for their first try from a searing counter attack set up by the impressive Vince Aso. In what was to become a theme for the game, it didn’t take long for Bay of Plenty to strike back when Tupe crashed over from a double following another impressive line out drive from the hard working Steamers pack.



The final word for the half came from Auckland who snatched the lead back with some fast hands leading to a try out wide from the returning Lolagi Visinia.

With Simon Hickey marshalling his side well from first five-eighth, Auckland leapt to a commanding 39-19 lead with 20 minutes to play. Bay of Plenty coach Clayton McMillan then rang a number of changes to bring some energy to the Steamers in the final quarter.

Impressive No 8, Joel Tupe crossed for his hat trick from a dominating scrum effort to close the gap to 33-38 before Melani Nanai and Teddy Stanaway traded tries to close out the thrilling encounter.

For Auckland, they will be satisfied to pick up the bonus point victory but will be concerned about the way their scrum and defence crumbled under pressure from the Steamers at crucial times throughout the match. Rieko Ioane was again impressive with a hat trick showing his rising status as one of the stars of the game.

Auckland captain Simon Hickey said: “We needed it, it was do or die today so we are stoked to get the win. The game see-sawed, if you give the opposition momentum then you are on the back foot from the start so it was far from a polished performance from us.”

Scorers:

Bay of Plenty 38 (Shahn Eru, Teddy Stanaway 2, Joel Tupe 3 tries, Kelly Haimona 2 con, Dan Hollinshead 2 con) Auckland 44 (Rieko Ioane 3, Lolagi Visinia, Melani Nanai tries, Simon Hickey try, 2 pen, 4 con)
HT: 19-25







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