Auckland back on top in the Premiership

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Tasman are still in third place, three points behind second-placed Waikato, on 20 points while Auckland leads on 24.

 

Canterbury, after their one-point injury-time loss to Waikato, slipped out of the top four, by one point.

 

In the Championship, Hawke's Bay and Otago lead with 20 points while Northland is third on 18 with Taranaki moving in front of Southland on 14 points.

 

Week six action:

 

Hawke's Bay v Northland 

 

After a first half dominated by penalty goals, Hawke's Bay provided the slightest of chances for centre Stacey Ili to penetrate the Northland defence and once through he was able to feed Danny Neria Fomai at speed to run in what proved the game-breaking try for the Shield holders four minutes into the second half. They followed that with a blindside play that saw skipper and hooker Ash Dixon lurking on the left flank and he dived in to extend the lead. Northland had their moments with prop Luatangi Li driving over for two tries but it was Hawke's Bay ability to work their backline moves that saw the game made safe by Danny Toala and outstanding loose forward Devon Flanders for a 33-17 win.

 

Hawke's Bay 33 (Neria Fomai, Ash Dixon, Danny Toala, Devon Flanders tries; Lincoln McClutchie  2 con, 3 pen) Northland 17 (Luatangi Li 2 tries; Dan Hawkins con, pen; J Cooper con). HT: 9-3

Manawatu v Bay of Plenty

 

No team can afford to give Bay of Plenty back Chase Tiatia any room, and Manawatu learnt that after only three minutes of their game. But the honours for the day belonged to Kaleb Trask, playing at fullback. His kick and chase from halfway to win the race to score was an example of the running mood that took Bay of Plenty to a halftime lead of 38-21, backed by a lovely try scored by flanker Joe Johnston when running a perfect angle, similar to that scored early by Mathew Skipwith-Garland. Not that Manawatu lacked class, firstly to a nice set-piece play which saw first five-eighths Stewart Garland score, and then a perfect pass from hooker Sam Stewart to halfback Jamie Booth who raced 25m to score. With a halftime lead of 38-21, it was almost too much to expect the pace to continue but flying wing Joe Webber and another incursion by Trask provided Bay of Plenty with a win to savour away from home.

 

Manawatu 35 (Stewart Cruden, Tyler Laubscher, Jamie Booth, Johnny Galloway, Drew Wild tries; Cruden 3 con; Ben Wyness 2 con) Bay of Plenty 53 (Chase Tiatia, Joe Webber 2, Mathew Skipwith-Garland, Kaleb Trask 2, Joe Johnston tries; Otere Black 5 con, pen; Trask con, pen). HT: 21-38

Wellington v North Harbour

 

North Harbour could have felt they were well on the way to a key win during the first half of their contest with Wellington after well-executed tries scored by first five-eighths Bryn Gatland and wing Jared Page. But Wellington showed how dangerous they could be with a length of the field try, courtesy of a kick towards touch by first five-eighths Jackson Garden-Bachop, a good chase to secure the ball from wing Julian Savea, and superb support runs by hooker James O'Reilly and prop Alex Fidow before the prize went to centre Billy Proctor. They followed that immediately with a short-side try for Garden-Bachop to go to the break one point down. North Harbour scored again midway through the second half when wing Tomas Aoake ghosted his way in at the corner. However, failure to cover a kick into the 22 cost Harbour badly when wing Julian Savea swept on to some untidy ball to claim the lead which they held for the final 18 minutes of the game.

 

Wellington 25 (Billy Proctor, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Julian Savea tries; Garden-Bachop 2 con, 2 pen) North Harbour 20 (Bryn Gatland, Jared Page, Tomas Aoake tries; Gatland con, pen). HT: 12-13

Auckland v Tasman 

 

Auckland, fuelled by a big loss to Tasman last year, poured the pressure on from the outset through their pack, opening their scoring with tries to flanker Adrian Choat and prop Marcel Renata before their backs got into the action. Wing Salesi Rayasi chimed in from the blindside to make an electric break that opened space on the right-wing for AJ Lam to score. Then, Tasman let a high kick bounce and in the contest lock, Jack Whetton had the height to secure the ball, run downfield and then give Tumua Manu the chance to run in the try. Rayasi showed his skill in securing a crossfield kick from first five-eighths Harry Plummer to secure the ball and score just after the halftime break. A charge down of a Plummer kick by Tasman second five-eighths Alex Nankiville resulted in their first points of the game which was backed by an injury-time try to replacement hooker Quentin MacDonald.

 

Auckland 31 (Adrian Choat, Marcel Renata, AJ Lam, Tumua Manu, Salesi Rayasi tries; Harry Plummer 3 con) Tasman 10 (Alex Nankiville try). HT: 24-0

Southland v Taranaki

Southland may have developed formidable defensive strength but it wasn't enough to prevent Taranaki scoring two tries in Invercargill. The first, in the early stages of the game, was to prop Reuben O'Neill was the result of a traditional lineout drive and ruck while the second, early in the second half was the result of a blindside play with first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta's long pass finding wing Jacob Ratumaitavuku-Kneepkens with space on the outside. He chipped ahead for a favourable bounce and ran in the try. Southland's only response was three penalty goals landed by first five-eighths Scott Eade.

 

Southland 9 (Scott Eade 3 pen) Taranaki 17 (Reuben O'Neill, Jacob Ratumaitavuku-Kneepkens tries; Jayson Potroz 2 con, pen): HT: 6-7

Canterbury v Waikato

 

Canterbury suffered their third loss of the season in an extended contest with Bay of Plenty in Christchurch. With Waikato's Beaudein Waaka in the sin-bin for a goal-line head-high tackle on Josh McKay, Canterbury did what they know best by employing their lineout drive to secure the opening try for lock Luke Romano. They extended that in the second half when prop Tamaiti Williams took his chance to rumble over to give Canterbury a 15-6 lead. Veteran loose forward Liam Messam looked to have scored a decisive try, however, TMO evidence showed he had lost control of the ball over the line. But, Waikato were not finished. It took eight minutes of overtime, they finally wore out the home defence with halfback Cortez Ratima scoring and Rivez Reihana kicked the match-winning conversion to go with his three earlier penalty goals.

 

Canterbury 15 (Luke Romano, Tamaiti Williams tries; Fergus Burke con, pen) Waikato 16 (Cortez Ratima try; Rivez Reihana con, 3 pen) HT: 8-6

 

Otago v Counties Manukau

 

Having established a 21-3 lead through the speed of midfielder Josh Timu and wing Freedom Vaha'akolo, Otago had to withstand a comeback from Counties Manukau. Just before three-quarter time, they had produced tries for flanker Alamanda Motuga, midfielder Orbyn Leger and loose forward Viliame Taulani to claim a 22-21 lead. But then first five-eighths Josh Ioane slotted a perfectly-weighted chip kick into the goalmouth which Timu controlled to score and reclaim the lead. There was time for Josh Dickson to score his second try of the game. And when Counties Manukau looked to push for a final try, from their 22m, an error coughed the ball up for Charles Eaton to complete the scoring for the home team.

 

Otago 40 (Josh Timu 2, Freedom Vaha'akolo, Josh Dickson 2, Charles Eaton tries; Josh Ioane 5 con) Counties Manukau 22 (Alamanda Motuga, Orbyn Leger, Viliame Taulani tries; Baden Kerr 2 con, pen). HT 21-8

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