Sunday, August 26, 2018
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Auckland have opened their Mitre 10 Cup campaign with consecutive wins for the first time since 2013 with a 12-28 win over Northland in the ‘Battle of the North’ today.
Last year there were just two points in it as Auckland clinched a 10-8 win over the Taniwha and it looked like it would be just as tight this year with Northland taking a 12-7 lead into the halftime break.
But a sensational 10 minute period early in the second half ended Northland’s hopes as Auckland piled on three quick tries to take a 12-28 lead and there was no coming back for the Taniwha.
One of the feature match-ups on the park was the clash between exciting wings Rene Ranger and Melani Nanai. Northland’s Ranger was lively in the first half and played a hand in both of his side’s tries by setting up Blake Hohaia for one and scoring the other himself.
In the second half it was his opposite Melani Nanai to the fore with two tries in the space of five minutes. Both were on the back of great assists with fullback Jordan Trainor igniting the first and halfback Leon Fukofuka putting Nanai in a gap for the second with a no-look ball to deceive the Northland defence.
Impressive young wing Salesi Rayasi scored on debut for the Auckland last week and added a second try for the province in the 53rd minute to stretch Auckland to a commanding 12-28 lead.
There was plenty of endeavour from Northland in the final quarter but the score remained unchanged as Auckland held on for the bonus point win.
The win puts Auckland equal top with Tasman on the Premiership standings while Northland are in a three-way tie at the bottom of the Championship on one point along with Southland and Otago.