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Resilient Harbour edge Mooloos

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Saturday, August 25, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

It did not look possible at the 52-minute mark, when the Mooloos led 21-8, but the visitors kept the pressure on, and eventually Waikato cracked. The latter has now lost five on the bounce at home since its last win exactly 12 months ago.

Waikato would have been content enough with the 7-8 halftime deficit, having played the first stanza into a stiff wind.

North Harbour monopolised the ball and worked the fringes, but it was not until the 20th minute that the deadlock was broken when wing Tevita Li crossed out wide after the Harbour pack marched a lineout drive close to the line, Bryn Hall’s pass was long and on the chest of Li, who finished in typical style.

Waikato was not passive, however, making several breaks through men like wing Sevu Reece and centre Quinn Tupaea, fresh out of Hamilton BHS but already looking at home at this level.

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The home side received a real fillip just before the break when loose forward Jordan Manihera, who has previously played for Harbour, crashed over following a Tupaea thrust and the resultant lineout.

Wing Declan O’Donnell finished a fine counter-attacking try, while Tupaea, with pace to match his skill, outstripped the cover after a Matty Lansdown break.

North Harbour may not have been fluent, but was boosted when referee Cam Stone awarded a penalty try due to a collapsing scrum. It seemed a fair call. When Li crossed to his second try after several pairs of hands had combined, North Harbour had taken an unlikely lead. Murphy Taramai speared through just minutes later to give the Premiership team an eight-point buffer.

A late try to Waikato replacement Tyler Campbell at least enabled the Mooloos to secure two bonus points, which could yet prove valuable in the Championship race.

 

Standouts for Harbour included captain and hooker James Parsons, lock Ben Nee-Nee, who showed a wide array of skills, and muscular No 8 Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a.
Tupaea was the best on show for Waikato.

Waikato next travels to Auckland on Thursday night for a crossover clash, while North Harbour hosts Tasman next Saturday evening.

Scorers
North Harbour 29
(Tevita Li 2, Murphy Taramai tries, penalty try; Bryn Gatland 2 con, pen) Waikato 28 (Jordan Manihera, Declan O’Donnell, Quinn Tupaea, Tyler Campbell tries; Fletcher Smith 4 con) HT: 8-7 North Harbour