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Hawke's Bay miss upset by a whisker

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Friday, October 1, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

It would have been a remarkable win for the Bay who had been languishing near the bottom of the table before getting their campaign back on track with a win over Taranaki last weekend.

They came very close to backing that with an even more impressive scalp, especially when their goal-kicker Mark Jackman, who had earlier landed 14 points was unable to land a last minute penalty goal attempt.

Auckland's previously impressive defensive record took a hammering when Hawke's Bay secured its four-try bonus point within 50 minutes, a fine effort given Auckland hadn't conceded a try in its three previous games.

Hawke's Bay looked to have stolen a march when scoring two tries in four minutes within 10 minutes of the second half starting. First flanker Trent Boswell-Wakefield crossed after taking a pop pass from wing Jackman. Then it was wing Sinoti Sinoti who capped off some impressive driving build-up play with his 50th minute effort.

Auckland coach Mark Anscombe rang the changes, most notably introducing All Black Joe Rokocoko, and halfback Brenton Helleur, and that appeared to lift a previously hesitant backline to the point where centre Winston Stanley was able to score in the 55th minute. Lock Liaki Moli again demonstrated his potential by providing crucial impetus after a tap penalty which saw skipper Daniel Braid cross for his second try in the 66th minute. Berquist was unable to convert to leave the score tied at 31-31.

It was a second half full of action with Auckland finally getting its game together in the last 30 minutes. Until then it was Hawke's Bay which had called the tune.

Auckland scored first, in the 11th minute when captain and Braid crossed when a reverse pass from halfback Toby Morland opened up a gap for Braid to run onto the ball at pace on an angle which opened the gap.

Braid had several time been used in the first 10 minutes to provide the break and it was due reward for those efforts, and value also for the quick lineout throw taken by fullback Chay Raui to wing Brent Ward to set up the thrust which provided the try.

But Braid, back at halfway immediately blotted his copybook when unable to secure the re-start. Hawke's Bay first five-eighths Kahn Foutuali'i grabbed the ball and fed his skipper and centre Jason Shoemark who raced away for the try which was converted by wing Mark Jackman to tie the scores at 7-7.

After penalty goals were exchanged, Hawke's Bay camped in the Auckland 22m area, and went close to scoring after home prop Charlie Faumuina was sin-binned for deliberately collapsing a maul as it rumbled toward the goal-line. From the subsequently lineout following the penalty, Auckland won the lineout, but failed to control the ball. Morland's kick was charged but Bay prop Anthony Perenise wasn't able to touch the ball as it lay free in-goal.

A scrum followed and from it the ball was moved wide for Jackman to cross unmarked wide out, with Auckland a man down due to Faumuina's banishment, and his conversion took Hawke's Bay out to a 17-10 lead.

Penalty goals either side of halftime by Berquist kept Auckland well in touch.

Fotuali'i had a fine game marshalling his backline and providing thrust on several occasions while fullback Israel Dagg was a constant menace whose presence gave his side confidence while Jackman was a superb competitor on his wing while his goal-kicking was outstanding.

Scorers:
Auckland 34 (Daniel Braid, Winston Stanley tries; Matt Berquist 2con, 5 pen) Hawke's Bay34 (Jason Shoemark, Mark Jackman, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Sinoti Sinoti tries; Jackman 4 con, 2 pen). HT: 13-17