Mitre 10 Cup Review: Week Three

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Sunday, September 2, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

But it was also the first week when teams played two games, and neither Counties Manukau nor Taranaki were able to claim two wins.

Northland, who had been winless in their first two games provided the upset of the round when beating Taranaki 18-17 in Whangarei on Sunday, Taranaki having beaten Counties Manukau 26-19 on Wednesday.

Counties Manukau v Taranaki

It was a thrilling finish in Pukekohe on Wednesday when firstly Counties Manukau wing Tony Pulu scored a sensational try to draw his side level 19-19 with six minutes left. But then Taranaki scored from the restart with fullback Beaudein Waaka scoring his second try of the night to end up with 21 points to give Taranaki the win.

Auckland v Waikato

Just how much of a different prospect Auckland are this season was evident in their 35-17 win over Waikato at Eden Park. Although far from the finished article, there is more steel in the Auckland approach and hooker Robbie Abel demonstrated that with two tries, a feat matched by fullback Jordan Trainor. Waikato have traditionally been a banana skin for Auckland, but not this time.

Wellington v Southland

Down 0-40 at halftime it looked curtains for Southland against Wellington at Westpac Stadium but a much stronger second half effort made life more difficult and although there was never any prospect of Wellington missing out, they were left with plenty to think about. Ben Lam had a big game with three tries while Southland showed they should be not too far away from an overdue win.
Bay of Plenty v Canterbury 

Bay of Plenty were bold in taking their scrum to Canterbury for much of the first three-quarters of the game but Canterbury aren't champions without good reason and they saved their best until the final quarter when they finished the stronger of the two sides to pull away for a 31-19 win. Bay of Plenty deserved better than the final margin, but showed plenty to offer further hope.

Manawatu v Otago

Otago finally got on the board, and were impressive in doing so, boosted by a commanding display from Naulia Dawai. They scored seven tries with a dominant second half effort which shut the home team completely out of the game as 43 points were posted without answer. Josh Ioane complemented the try scoring with six conversions as Otago posted their half-century for a 50-17 win.

North Harbour v Tasman

New All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell played like he was making up for lost time to inspire a superb forward display by Tasman at North Harbour Stadium en route to a 32-20 win. Frizell was everywhere while the Tasman pack proved too powerful for the home unit. North Harbour had sufficient ball but struggled to consistently breach the determined Tasman defence.

Hawke's Bay v Counties Manukau 

Finding their second wind after some untidy and loose play early in the game Counties Manukau ended Hawke's Bay's winning streak at the start of their season by claiming a match-winning 78th minute try, scored by captain and lock Matiaha Martin to give the visitors a 29-25 win. It was a first win for Counties Manukau who were playing their second game in five days.

Northland v Taranaki 

Playing away from home has proved an issue for Taranaki who lost to Bay of Plenty in the first week and they lost to another Championship side Northland in Whangarei on Sunday going down 17-18. That was due to Matt Wright landing a penalty goal just out from the end of the game to secure the win. Northland dominated possession in the second half and shut Taranaki out for a key win.