Mitre 10 Cup Review: Week Seven
Sunday, September 30, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Results from Week Seven were:
Hawke's Bay 55 Northland 41
Turning on plenty of running rugby both sides battled for the final advantage and Northland, after scoring 38 first half points are probably still wondering how this one got away. Hawke's Bay hadn't done too badly either as they scored 24 first-half points. Ironically, in such a free-running game, Hawke's Bay turned to their lineout drive and sharpened defence to deny Northland and finish with nine tries.
Determined Manawatu defence denied Bay of Plenty the platform they needed. It took Bay of Plenty 66 minutes to score their first try. They had the wood on Manawatu up front but were inaccurate in many aspects of their game and with Otere Black calling the shots with aplomb, the Bay were kept on the back foot. It didn't help that they were seven points down within 50 seconds of the game starting courtesy of a brilliant solo try to halfback Jamie Booth.
There were signs in Auckland's one-point win over Taranaki that things might not be going all that well, and Otago highlighted that when claiming a rare win on Eden Park. Matt Faddes enjoyed the occasion with a hat-trick of tries. It wasn't all bad news for Auckland as they claimed two bonus points and they went close to scoring during an extended period of injury time at the end of the game, but this time there was no escape route as Otago maintained the solid defence which had been so handy all game.
Southland were in the hunt when 11-14 down at halftime in the Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato, but the home side's ability to create chances, while contained in the first half, burst forth in the second and they ran in 28 points without answer. Waikato moved to the head of the Championship with the win, going five points clear of Hawke's Bay while Southland continue to search for their first win.
Tevita Li's four try haul not only rocketed him to the top of the individual try scoring list but underlined a dominant North Harbour display over a lacklustre Taranaki side which paid the price for inaccuracies. First five-eighths Bryn Gatland was subtle in his choices while there was a more haphazard look about Taranaki until late in the game when they strung moves together but it was all too late to have any impact on the scoreboard.
Utilising their superior quality in set plays Tasman put a stop on Wellington's march this season. They were up 23-10 at one stage and kept far enough in front to deny the home side when they mounted their inevitable late challenge. The burgeoning liaison between halfback Finlay Christie and first five-eighths Mitchell Hunt is proving decisive and complements the strength they enjoy up front.
Canterbury continued their recovery from their loss to Auckland and proved too strong for Hawke's Bay. They were forced to work hard after being held to 21-17 at the half, but their combination struck in the second half and they cleared out to achieve a comfortable win, in scoring seven tries to three. They moved back into second place with the win.
Northland made up for their earlier loss in the round by showing great stamina to hold off a typically fast-finishing Northland team to claim a valuable win in Pukekohe. Rene Ranger was a key figure in the Northland backline putting his experience and skill to use throughout while his effort to deny a late Counties Manukau try was a typical piece of opportunism.
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