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Luamanu hat-trick sets up North Harbour

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Sunday, September 26, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

During the first half the snap and zip North Harbour achieved, especially through the play of lock Anthony Boric with his lineout dominance, and the speed on the break of second five-eighths Luke McAlister, seemed set to cause Manawatu all manner of problems.

But Luamanu's efforts apart, North Harbour failed to retain that dominance for long periods of the second half, possibly due to injuries, but certainly as the result of a lack of cohesion with ball in hand. The handling errors were almost nightmarish, especially in try-scoring situations.

North Harbour was unable to put the foot on Manawatu's throat. That was due to the dogged persistence of the visiting pack where lock Michael Fitzgerald proved a powerful workhorse while the backline centre Hadleigh Parkes was constantly probing for openings. Halfback Aaron Smith was a tidy distributor and with ball in hand Manawatu was entitled to be respected as it showed with both its second half tries.

North Harbour set its stall almost from the outset.

A storming run off a clean lineout take by lock Boric eight minutes into the game saw McAlister break the line and feed left wing Nafi Tuitavake who had ranged up outside him. He charged further ahead and then found centre Jack Tarrant whose quick hands fed right wing Ken Pisi through for a well taken try, moments after first five-eighths Michael Harris had opened the scoring with a penalty goal. Harris added a fine conversion into the wind from wide out.

Manawatu hit the front in the 18th minute after first five-eighths Isaac Thompson had landed two penalty goals before No.8 Hamish Gosling intercepted a pass on halfway as Luamanu passed on the counterattack. Open spaces ensured no challengers could haul Gosling in.

Luamanu quickly redeemed himself however, when from another Boric lineout take he was fed into space in midfield by Harris and he had an easy run in beneath the crossbar.

And if that wasn't enough he completed a hat-trick with tries in the 33rd and 35th minute, the first from a lineout take by lock Filo Paulo and the second off a neat reverse pass by Boric which opened a huge gap for Luamanu to romp 40m for the try.

Manawatu made an emphatic statement at the outset of the second half when it could have taken a penalty kick at goal. It went for the sideline, won the lineout and Thompson was able to feed lock Michael Fitzgerald towards the line. He bullocked and bucked his way towards the line and then as the support came in he stretched out and planted the ball over the line two minutes after the re-start.

Harris landed a penalty goal for Harbour but then in the ninth minute, Manawatu held possession through a sustained period as it drove into North Harbour's 22m area and it was finally fullback Craig Clare who touched down.

Scorers:

North Harbour 44 (Ken Pisi, Mathew Luamanu 3 tries; Mike Harris 4con, 2 pen) Manawatu 30 (Hamish Gosling; Michael Fitzgerald, Craig Clare, Frank Bryant tries; Isaac Thompson con, 2 pen; Clare con). HT: 31-11