Mitre 10 Cup Review: Week Eight

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Sunday, October 7, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

They travel to Invercargill for their first game on Wednesday, then back that up with their bridge battle with North Harbour, a game that last season was horrendous as Auckland suffered a record defeat. 

This time around it shapes as important for North Harbour if they are to make the playoffs as they share fourth at the moment with Wellington who will be looking to secure their place against cellar dweller Taranaki – a side who will be hoping they can beat Wellington, and then have Canterbury beat Counties Manukau to avoid relegation.

There's no issue in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship as the playoff spots have already gone to Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Otago and Northland. It's just a case of who finishes where on the table.

Otago 45 Bay of Plenty 34

Bay of Plenty had the bit between their teeth at Forsyth Barr Stadium but three intercept tries to Otago in the space of 23 minutes put paid to that. The Bay of Plenty pack took the game to the home side but it was the home backs who turned the game around in the nick of time for a win that was more flattering than accurate on the scoreboard.

Wellington 24 Auckland 29

Stung by their loss to Otago, Auckland took time to get into this game at Westpac Stadium and had to come back from 10-24 down. But three quick tries stunned the home side and by the time they regathered their thoughts the game had disappeared as Auckland put the lid on Wellington ambitions to claim a much-needed win.

Hawke's Bay 45 Manawatu 17

Manawatu made a 14-point dream start to this local derby but it was all too soon for a Hawke's Bay side who got back to a share of the game at halftime 17-17, and then hit the afterburners in the second half to add 28 unanswered points while scoring some superb tries that would have boosted their confidence ahead of the playoffs. The Hawke's Bay loose forwards have developed into a dynamic combination.

Northland 28 Waikato 71

Northland had cause for some confidence going into this home game against the Ranfurly Shield holders, but that proved short-lived as the visitors dominated the first half to lead 38-7 at the break. Eleven tries to four made it an entertaining spectacle but it was a warning to Northland that much better defence will be vital should the two sides meet, as appears likely, in the playoffs.

North Harbour 36 Counties Manukau 26

Having an edge through their forward pack, North Harbour kept the pressure on Counties Manukau throughout the first half especially through their scrum. With a penalty try North Harbour led 17-12 at the break and then scored two quick tries after the turn to secure their position which could prove vital as the competition reaches its final stages.

Canterbury 41 Taranaki 7

Red cards were suffered by both sides, but the loss of lock Jarrad Hoeata after five minutes proved more costly than Canterbury losing prop Daniel Lienert-Brown midway through the second half. Taranaki defended like demons but they could only prevent the dam breaking for so long and when it broke Canterbury were not slow in seizing their chances. But without that defence, it could have been a lot worse for Taranaki.

Southland 22 Bay of Plenty 26

Both sides wanted a win but it was Bay of Plenty that had the satisfaction in Invercargill. They ended a six-game losing streak while Southland equalled Northland's record for the longest run without a win. Southland got out to a 22-19 lead with hope in their eyes but fate stepped in near the end as Bay of Plenty scored to claim the win.

Otago 21 Tasman 47

Just why Tasman are looking so good to give coach Leon MacDonald a winning sendoff to the Blues was evident in their romp over Otago in Dunedin to round out the weekend. Up 28-0 by the turn, Tasman were always in control with promising fullback Will Jordan crossing for a hat-trick of tries in a fine display. It wasn't the sort of Ranfurly Shield challenge dress rehearsal Otago wanted.