Auckland hold off dogged Taniwha
Saturday, August 26, 2017 Mitre10Cup.co.nz Getty Images
Despite limited territory and possession, Auckland took a 10-3 halftime lead thanks to substitute hooker Kurt Eklund.
Northland responded early in the second half with a try to Jone Macilai to reduce the deficit to two points with a quarter of the game to play.
Northland threw everything at the hosts, as they had done all afternoon, but Auckland’s defence held firm for their first victory of the 2017 season.
The visitors did not leave empty handed, with a well-deserved bonus point that could valuable for their Championship aspirations.
After a relatively stunted start from both sides, the visitors were given an early boost. Auckland fullback Jordan Trainor was yellow carded for tackling a Northland player in the air in the 10th minute.
Breen gave the visitors a 3-0 lead, but that was as good as it got in the following 10 minutes. Jono Hickey equalised moments before Trainor returned, giving Auckland parity on the scoreboard and on the field.
Auckland conceded seven first-half errors, with captain Patrick Tuipulotu's supposed knock-on denying teammate Malakai Fekitoa a try.
Having been starved of territory and possession, the hosts with five minutes to play in the first half thanks to a blunder at set-piece time from the visitors.
A defensive lineout five metres from the lineout was overthrown, allowing substitute hooker Eklund to score the first try of the match.
Hickey converted the try to give Auckland a 10-3 halftime lead, just reward for its defensive resolve in the opening 40 minutes.
Northland continued to test the hosts' defence in the second half and were eventually rewarded with an entertaining try to Jone Macilai.
Young Northland halfback Malcolm McLeod's time on the field was short, with his poor pass compounded by a shoulder injury seconds later.
Auckland saw out the match in style, holding on to the ball for 26 phases before calmly booting the ball into touch for a well deserved victory.
Auckland 10 (Kurt Eklund try; Jono Hickey con, pen) Northland 8 (Jone Macilai, Peter Breen pen). HT: 10-3.
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